Food Forward’s Steven Heer finds the true meaning of “paying it forward” with a group of young volunteers this summer in California’s San Gabriel Valley:



This past Tuesday, Daniel and I led a pick with a group of kids that were looking to become consistent volunteers. Throughout the pick, these kids (ages 11-14) got excited about the prospect of engaging in a fun type of volunteering under the sun. As one kid was picking, he asked me why we didn’t sell the produce we picked to buy cheaper foods. I explained to him that the food insecure were always getting cheap, unhealthy foods, and that we were saving these receiving agencies thousands of dollars by providing fresh fruit. Furthermore, this helps balance out these people’s diets, since they usually get meals that are high in starches and fats. When the boy realized what it is that he was picking for, he started picking more, making sure not to leave a single tangerine. Another volunteer came up to me and asked if Food Forward collected shoes to give to less fortunate kids. I told her that we only harvest fruit but that would be a great idea. After picking 460 pounds of fruit, we packed up the boxes and delivered it to one of our receiving agencies. Later that night, I got a text from that girl’s mother saying, “my daughter created this flyer (below) as soon as she came home today. Volunteering ‘breeds’ more volunteering ideas to help others.” It’s great to know that our efforts are inspiring others to be philanthropic.


Follow Duke University students Steven Heer and Daniel Ketyer (my son!) as they help Food Forward harvest fruit that would otherwise go to waste and improve “the quality and nutritional value of food in low-income communities in greater Los Angeles” on their blog here.