Rick Nahmias is the founder of Food Forward and represented the organization at the 2010 Social Innovation Fast Pitch competition. Rick’s great pitch won the $5,000 Innovation and Impact Award and the $1,000 Audience Favorite Award.
The Food Forward model is brilliant in its simplicity. In Southern California, an overabundance of fresh citrus fruit growing on private property goes to waste, while thousands of people go hungry. Rick Nahmias, the founder of Food Forward, created a fresh solution to this problem: mobilize volunteers to pick fruit and donate it to food cupboards and homeless shelters, where the hungry could have access to it. “It’s a very simple process,” says Rick. “But crazily, it’s very innovative in our world.”
This great idea made a big impression at the 2010 Social Innovation Fast Pitch. Food Forward took home the award for Innovation & Impact and the Audience Favorite award. One individual in the audience was so impressed by the pitch that they threw a fundraiser for Food Forward which earned $15,000 for the organization. Rick’s Fast Pitch coaches were so enamored with Food Forward that they joined its Board of Directors. Another spectator invited Rick to speak at the TEDx USC conference, where he reached an additional 1,200 people with his innovative idea to feed the hungry.
Rick testifies to the fact that Fast Pitch offers participants more than just a one-time pay-off. “SVP almost feels like a new extended family,” he says. Through Fast Pitch, Food Forward has fostered long-term connections with people who really believe in them and are willing to do all they can to help. “Having that expertise very generously offered to us is great,” says Rick. Food Forward’s win at Fast Pitch has also served as a ‘seal of approval’ that has helped the organization be taken more seriously, resulting in more funding, which turns into much needed resources like harvesting equipment, automobiles, and warehouse space.
Since Food Forward was founded, volunteers have harvested and donated 897,488 pounds of fruit and vegetables. To balance that scale you’d need about 80 African elephants. That’s a hefty pile of food, all going to the people who need it most. “It’s a simple equation,” says Rick. “Harvesting food, fighting hunger and building community. SVP has helped us do all those things.”
You can find out more about Food Forward by visiting their website or following them on Twitter @foodforwardla.