Food Forward, a Los Angeles nonprofit, was recognized Monday with a Food Recovery Challenge award by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as part of Winning on Reducing Food Waste Month.

“Food Forward is making surplus fresh produce available to people in need,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker. “I’m pleased to recognize this organization’s leaders and the many volunteers and donors who make this possible.”

This is the fourth Food Recovery Challenge award received by Food Forward, which fights hunger and prevents food waste in Southern California by rescuing produce and connecting it to those in need via local hunger relief agencies. The fresh fruits and vegetables come from more than 730 backyards, farms, and orchards; 283 farmers at 24 weekly farmers’ markets; and 170-plus wholesale produce vendors.

“Our volunteers stand on the front lines and distribute healthy, nutritious produce to our recipients. They also help prepare the small amount not fit for consumption for compost,” said Rick Nahmias, Food Forward’s founder and executive director. “It’s truly an honor to dig into these unique collaborations and to take this virtuous circle to completion.”

In 2017, Food Forward’s Wholesale Produce Recovery program rescued 17.2 million pounds of edible fresh fruits and vegetables otherwise destined for landfills, a 25% increase over 2016, according to the EPA.

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