by Alicia Doyle

Pomegranates will be the star of the show this month when food and drink companies in Ventura County create a special menu item for Food Forward’s Harvest Change program. A portion of the sale from these custom items, which will include dishes and desserts featuring the pomegranate, will support Food Forward’s mission to reduce food waste and fight hunger.

Michelle Kenney, owner and executive chef at La Dolce Vita in Oxnard, is just one of many local restauranteurs participating in Harvest Change. She created three items: a spinach salad with pomegranate seeds and vinaigrette; a pomegranate pistachio crostini; and a sparkler from the 1901 Speakeasy concocted of pomegranate, sage, gin and elderflower.

“We were raised with fresh produce — my family owns Perricone Farms — and always appreciated the quality of real whole food,” Kenney said. “We never wasted anything and grew up sharing whatever we had. We love the idea of Food Forward as that is how we try to live our lives every day. We support anything that helps eliminate food waste and food insecurity.”

Food Forward, a nonprofit organization, fights hunger and prevents food waste by rescuing fruits and vegetables from backyard fruit trees, public orchards, farmers markets and the downtown Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Terminal. In the last decade, Food Forward has rescued more than 80 million pounds of fresh produce, which was donated to hunger relief agencies across eight counties in Southern California.

Harvest Change participants in Ventura County include Ex Voto Chocolates and Confections and Paradise Pantry in Ventura; King and King Ranch in Fillmore; and Ojai-based businesses Little Sama, Ojai Rotie, Revel and Topa Topa Brewing Co.

Activities surrounding Harvest Change kicked off Oct. 6 with a party at Topa Topa Brewing Co. in Ojai, but the promotion continues throughout October. In addition, the program is featuring a social media contest: People sampling the Harvest Change offerings can post pictures to Instagram to enter a raffle. For more information on the event and the contest, visit