Over the past five years, Rick Nahmias has been able to feed millions of people in need, and, the founder of Food Forward says, it all started with an orange.
In 2009, Nahmias was walking around the neighborhood with his dog when he saw “a great amount of fruit trees that weren’t being harvested.” A friend of his, in particular, had a tangerine tree and an orange tree, but only used a few of each for herself and her daughter. Through his work as a documentary photographer, Nahmias saw first-hand how many communities were in need, and that sparked the idea to harvest his friend’s fruit and donate it to a local food bank.
“That was kind of a watershed moment,” the nonprofit founder said. “I saw the opportunity to connect need with abundance.”
Nahmias launched his first harvest in 2009 with the help of just one other volunteer. Together they gathered 85 pounds of tangerines in a few short hours. Less than a month later, he enlisted 50 people on another harvest, which yielded 5,000 pounds of oranges that would have otherwise rotted. Now with three core programs in place, Food Forward recovers and donates 4 million pounds of food each year.
According to the Nahmias, a native Californian, local trees produce hundreds of pounds of fruit, much of which would go to waste. Now it’s Food Forward’s mission to make sure that this excess produce is being used to provide nutritious meals for the hungry. Nahmias added, “The feeling is with this organization is that we have the solution within our own means to maybe not solve hunger, but to fight it.”