Two local teens, one from Milpitas and the other from Palo Alto, tied with another teen for third place in the 2023 International Young Eco-Hero competition. The two South Bay teens were among 17 young environmental activists from around the world to receive awards from Action For Nature. The awards honor eco-conscious youth ages 8-16 who are taking steps to solve environmental problems.
Satvika Iyer, 15, from Milpitas aims to create a healthy and sustainable food system in schools by advocating for more plant-based nutrition and better waste management. She worked with various organizations and her school district to introduce a permanent plant-based menu with meat-free alternatives and salad bars. She also lobbied Congress to include provisions promoting plant-based meals in the Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act.
Thanks to Satvika’s efforts, her high school has already served more than 5,000 plant-based meals, and she plans to continue her work by helping other school districts implement sustainable food systems.
“School food systems are where most Americans first experience their government’s policy failure,” Satvika said in a statement. “Knowing how these meals could impact my fellow students, I resolved to make the school cafeteria service for all.”
Colin Chu, 15, from Palo Alto discovered that his school discards more than 100 safe, nutritious extra meals each day, while just 12 miles away in San Francisco one in four people are food insecure. Colin’s project, Homeless Heroes, delivers thousands of meals that would have otherwise gone to waste to homeless shelters. Colin also educates the community about homelessness by sharing interviews and life stories of homeless individuals.
“My goal is to see what I can do to address the vast issue of food waste, starting with my own community,” Colin said.