Lillian Krovoza '15: InternLA's Empowered Fruit Hero
"Fighting food waste, engaging the community, feeding the hungry, promoting food sovereignty, and creatively showcasing sustainability all at the same time. I was hooked."
It's a pleasantly warm afternoon in early June, and I bounce straight from work, head east on the 134, and cross the Arroyo Seco just in time for a sunset pick—a fruit pick, that is. As a Food Forward pick leader (in addition to my other intern duties), I have been invited to come and pick hanging globes of ripe yellow grapefruit from an abundant 50-year-old tree. The homeowners tell me that when they first moved in in the ‘60s, it was just a lil’ sprout; now, it’s crankin’ out fruit like a factory. Meeting me at the property is a group of feisty, gung-ho junior high school kids (plus moms) who have signed up to help. Within an hour and a half, we’ve plucked over 400 lbs of fruit (off only one tree!) that would have otherwise split open and signaled over the flies during a slow decay on the grass. But instead, these 400 lbs will be dropped off within hours to a local food bank.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of the work that I get to do with Food Forward—SoCal’s largest volunteer-powered non-profit fruit gleaning organization. Before securing an internship with Food Forward, I had volunteered with them before, harvesting oranges at the Huntington Garden for Oxy’s MLK Day of Service event. That was the first time I truly felt the power of what Food Forward was doing: fighting food waste, engaging the community, feeding the hungry, promoting food sovereignty, and creatively showcasing sustainability all at the same time. I was hooked. As a student with a love for food justice and environmental sustainability, it was my ideal organization. That’s why, when I discovered that Food Forward was a 2014 InternLA placement site, I was elated by the prospect.
This summer isn’t my first stint with InternLA. I was fortunate enough to participate in the 2013 program, where I was placed as a Cornuelle Fellow at Community Partners. This unique InternLA fellowship prompted me to learn about social entrepreneurship first hand by pairing my internship experience with research on ’48 graduate and independent sector trailblazer Richard Cornuelle. Having experienced the InternLA program once before, I was sure that I wanted to participate again. Cut to four months later, and here I am, as the Volunteer Outreach and San Gabriel Valley Expansion Intern for Food Forward.
I’m immensely grateful to have been placed at two internships where I felt empowered—not belittled—by my status as an intern. I’ve been given the freedom and opportunity to apply my classroom knowledge to help guide prominent non-profit organizations. Classes such as Community Organizing, Urban Policy and Politics, and Food Assessment have given me the background information to contribute meaningfully at work. One thing I especially love about my internship this summer is the interaction I get to have in the community. Whether it’s giving a presentation to local a club, leading picks around LA, meeting with homeowners, or getting to know like-minded groups and individuals, I feel closer to LA than I ever have.
I am proud at how my immersion into the “real world” through InternLA has deepened my familiarity with LA’s independent sector. First working with Community Partners—a non-profit incubator—and now Food Forward, I have gotten to know quite well the varied and wide-spread projects catalyzing progress in Los Angeles. Every day, I am inspired by the actions that dedicated Angelinos are taking to make their city shine. I may be new to the scene, but I’m confident that in the next decade, Los Angeles will see some of the most drastic improvements to quality of life, social services, sustainability, outlets for creative expression, and overall livability that LA has ever seen. And I’m happy to say that an emerging batch of Occidental College students, myself included, will be contributors on that quest.
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