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This Sacramento man is picking 'unwanted' fruit to curb hunger | NorCal Strong

When the fruit is ripe in Sacramento, Matt Ampersand prepares for harvest. The yield he’s after isn’t in a field. It’s in his neighborhood’s backyard.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The people who make Northern California Strong are those who inspire us and make our communities a great place to live. ABC10 wants to highlight their strength by recognizing what they do. This week we want to introduce you to Matt Ampersand a fruit picker with a cause.

When the fruit is ripe in Sacramento, Matt Ampersand prepares for harvest. The yield he’s after isn’t in a field. It’s in his neighborhood’s backyard.

“I thought, why not pick the produce that was otherwise going to go to waste and give it away?” Ampersand said.

The professional gardener is the founder of Find Out Farms. A half-acre urban agriculture education center. Last year he started the Community Fruit Program. A grassroots effort to gleans fruit from backyard trees to feed people in food deserts. 

“For example, the 9582 area code is considered a food desert. We don’t have a good healthy grocery store,” Ampersand said.

Matt says convenience stores, liquor stores, and fast-food restaurants are really the only food options in food deserts. But in Sacramento, fresh unwanted produce is hanging in trees in just about every community.

“Each orange you give out to someone is vitamins, calories, and nutrients,” Ampersand said. 

When homeowners donate their fruit, Matt and his volunteers pick it from their tree then give it out to the needy at his farm stand. Any extra produce is donated to non-profits who feed the homeless. 

“There’s The Sac Neighbors program who go into the encampments and give it to the unhoused,” Ampersand said.

A team of Volunteers helps Ampersand pick in the South Oak park region, but he’s looking for others to expand the program. 

“If you are capable of picking the fruit yourself you should pick the fruit. Share it with your neighbors,” Ampersand said. Tap here to learn how to help.

Matt Ampersand and the volunteers with Community Fruit are NorCal Strong. 

If you want to nominate a strong Northern Californian send a text 916-321-3310 and put NorCal Strong in the text. Feel free to send pictures and or web links in the submission.

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