Betsy smiling in front of orange background reading Volunteer spotlight hot seat

Volunteer Hot Seat – Betsy Vanleit

Welcome to Food Forward’s Hot Seat!
Where we ask up to 10 rapid-fire questions to answer with only one word
(or as few words as possible).

Betsy Vanleit, Ventura County Glean Team Leader and Pick Leader

Before we get started, tell us a bit about yourself…

I love backyard picks and gleaning. We live at the center of an incredible amount of amazing produce. I’ve studied food systems and was on the board of a food co-op in New Mexico, so I know how much goes to waste and how hard it is for farmers to get their produce to people who need and want it. [Food Forward] is a low tech way to help a system that needs a lot of help. I cook and bake, so I love being around food and produce. I just love Food Forward. It’s an incredible organization that’s doing really good work.

I was a professor and administrator at The University of New Mexico for the Health Sciences Center and have a PhD in Community Health Education. I saw over and over that rural folks didn’t have access to good food, which was a big part of the heart conditions and diabetes [they experienced]. Food was central to my work in public and community health. Food is non-negotiable in people’s lives–everyone has to eat. It is essential to well-being and health.

And now for the hot seat…if you don’t have an answer to a question, you’re welcome to skip it. Have fun!

Favorite season?


If you were a type of produce, what would you be?


Your one tip to reduce food waste at home?

Eat everything

What keeps you coming back to volunteer?


Fruit or vegetable?


Who inspires you?

Vandana Shiva

Volunteering with friends, family, or solo?

Solo or with friends

Mornings or afternoons?


The most interesting produce you have gleaned?

All the different greens; mustard, collard, chard.

Favorite market to glean at?

Channel Islands Harbor Farmers Market in Oxnard