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Orchard Park teen's food initiative aims to feed the world

An Orchard Park teenager's plan to tackle food waste and hunger has earned her a scholarship to attend a youth global leadership summit in Italy this July.

Karlin Klass went to France last year with about 45 other local students with Education First, a company that combines language training with cultural exchange, academic achievement and educational travel. When she came back, she learned about the Global Citizen Scholarship program for this summer.

Each year Education First identifies a pressing global challenge, and this year students were asked to conceptualize a viable idea to address food-related challenges in their home communities. A committee reviewed hundreds of submissions before selecting 17 scholarship recipients, including Karlin.

She had heard that about 40 percent of food is wasted each year in the United States. She realized that if 25 percent of all the wasted food in the world is put to good use, it would be enough to feed every malnourished person in the world.

The F.O.O.D. Initiative - Feed Others, Overcome Deprivation – was born.

"I've always had an interest in food," Karlin said. "The project was really, really perfect for me."

The premise of her project is to save wasted food. She would target areas known for food waste, such as universities, hotels and buffet restaurants. The wasted food would be taken to various locations, turned into compost and given to certified organic farms for free. Farmers would be required to have at least 1 acre to be used to grow crops that would be given to people in underdeveloped areas.

The summer participants in the forum will tour Italy for 10 days, including Sorrento, Florence and Milan, where the group will attend at two-day food conference. They will hear from chef Anthony Bourdain, food writer, academic and activist Raj Patel and Stephen Ritz, a Bronx teacher whose initiatives are credited with growing more than 40,000 pounds of vegetables in the community.

"Each place we go, we're focusing on food in the raw," she said of the Italy trip.

Karlin also has an interest in food for animals. She and her sister, Kameron, own their own business, Two Sisters Brewery Biscuits, where they make dog treats from spent brewers grain from local breweries. There is no alcohol or hops in the treats. Karlin is a member of DECA, an association of marketing students, the student government and the National Honor Society. She's also on the volleyball and track teams, and is a bridesmaid specialist at a local bridal store.

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