Los Angeles Teen Provides Tamale Meals for Individuals Experiencing Homelessness
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Los Angeles Teen Provides Tamale Meals for Individuals Experiencing Homelessness

The Climate Leaders Fellowship program teaches students about climate change and environmental sustainability, and guides them in designing and launching a volunteer project in their own communities.

The fellowship is offered as a collaboration between the Stanford University Deliberative Democracy Lab and the Rustic Pathways Foundation.

Read about Nicole’s impactful experience below!

Nicole Carlos
Age 16
Inglewood, California

Hi I am Nicole and I’m 16. I come from Inglewood, California and I’m Mexican-American. I love the outdoors and enjoy exploring and trying new things! I joined The Climate Leaders Fellowship last fall due to my aspirations of bettering my community and climate change.

When I was introduced to this project, many ideas swirled in my mind. I looked at different ways to approach climate issues. I looked at what my hometown was struggling with and I noticed that many people are struggling with food shortage in the streets.

I thought to myself, how can I create a project where it targets both climate issues and humanity? That is where the idea of providing food to the homeless came in. Us humans don’t always recycle or dispose of items correctly, so I knew I had to have a strategic plan.

For my project, I decided to feed the homeless people found in the streets of my neighborhood and Los Angeles with the help of my family. Currently, Los Angeles County is facing a crisis of homelessness. More than 70,000 people are sleeping in the streets each night. I took the opportunity to feed individuals facing hardships and living on the side roads, while at the same time trying to use products that are beneficial to the environment.

Coming from a Mexican descent, I thought it would be a good idea to add my culture into this project, so the food we gave out was one of our traditional foods called tamales. Corn husk, a recyclable material, was used to wrap the tamales. To add on, each individual received 2 tamales. One tamale had green pepper and cheese (tamales de raja), while the other consisted of a sweet pink masa corn dough with nuts (tamales de dulce). Corn husk has positive factors such as helping with the reduction of waste volume and decrease of greenhouse emissions.

Overall, my experience with my project and at Climate Leaders Fellowship was very meaningful and memorable.  I impacted 120 lives and helped many people along the way. In the fellowship, you meet new individuals from different backgrounds that strive to create a change. It helped me open my eyes and come to a realization that no matter your age, you can help make a positive impact in regards to real-world problems.

About the Author

Kayla Anzalone

Kayla joined Rustic Pathways in 2020 as the Director of Special Projects. She has nearly a decade of experience in communications and marketing. At Rustic Pathways, Kayla is dedicated to helping high school students discover their passion for exploring the world through summer travel programs. She drives impactful initiatives to empower students through meaningful travel experiences worldwide. Based in San Jose, California, Kayla loves the outdoors, live music and travel.