When Stacy Serrano of Tahlequah, Oklahoma, U.S., received a call offering a free truckload of fresh, high-quality fruits and vegetables from California, she thought it was too good to be true. But it wasn't. Yuri Mitzkewich, program leader of California-based advocacy group Vegan Outreach, had been shocked when he visited Tahlequah, which is home to the largest number of native Cherokee speakers in the U.S. Dollar Stores were the only places to buy groceries for miles, and fresh food was scarce. Inflation and pandemic shortages only made it pricier to transport food to the region. Since Mitzkewich's call in 2020, at least 10,000 people in Serrano's Rural Community Initiative Foundation (RCIF) community have received food from Talequah community centers. Since 2009, Los Angeles-based nonprofit Food Forward aggregates bulk surplus produce from growers and shippers that would otherwise go to waste, and delivers them to regions lacking affordable, fresh produce. Its partner, Vegan Outreach, coordinates shipments of this surplus produce to Indigenous communities. In June 2022, Food Forward reached a milestone of having recovered and donated 250 million pounds, an estimated 1 billion servings, of fresh produce. In a nation where 15 percent of households were food insecure in 2020, their work reach another level during the pandemic and it continues to expand food assistance for other cities and communities.

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