Nithin Parthasarathy is a student at Irvine’s Northwood High School whose passion for sustainability and food equity led him to establishing the Zero Waste Initiative.
While eating at Bruegger’s Bagels here in Irvine, Nithin noticed workers throwing away surplus bagels that they couldn’t sell at the end of the day. Realizing that a lot of shops (and stores) throw surplus food away, Nithin decided to take action.
He started by reaching out to several organizations to see if they would be willing to take those bagels. After getting approval to pick up and distribute food to various nonprofit organizations, he began the tedious work of calling, emailing, and meeting with store managers to explain how many people were struggling with food insecurity, and how their surplus food could help.
Some of the Bruegger’s Bagels stores are now donating their surplus food.
The Zero Waste Initiative has been able to donate more than $3,000 in food that would have been thrown out. Organizations that have received the donated food include Families Forward, Human Options, the UCI Food Pantry, and the Community Actions Partnership of Orange County.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, Nithin sees an even greater need for struggling families. He’s currently recruiting student leaders and volunteers to help expand and sustain the Zero Waste Initiative. Nithin is also looking for more stores and restaurants that want to donate surplus food and nonprofits/shelters who are in need of donated food.