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‘Feed people, not landfills’

Coimbatore-based social entrepreneur Padmanaban Gopalan has added yet another feather to his cap. The teen recently bagged the Commonwealth Youth particular person of the year award for the Asia region 2019 at a ceremony, which used to be held at the Commonwealth’s headquarters in London on Wednesday. The award used to be given as a recognition for his contribution to eradicating hunger and reducing food waste via his NGO, No Food Waste. The NGO collects extra food and distributes it to the deficient and hungry regularly. No Food Waste, which used to be introduced in 2015, has now expanded its operations in 9 places – together with Chennai, Salem, Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri, Trichy, Thiruvananthapuram and Tadepalligudem.
The Commonwealth Youth Awards for Excellence in Development Work recognise the strange contribution of young people, elderly 15-29, of 53 Commonwealth nations who are main projects for attaining sustainable construction objectives. 16 finalists had been shortlisted from over 500 nominations from 45 Commonwealth nations.

Speaking on the occasion, an elated Padmanaban mentioned, “I never expected to receive this award. There aren't any words to provide an explanation for the ache of hunger. I salute the children who've been volunteering with us for the ultimate four years helping get well all the surplus food around the country and take it to the hungry each and every day. I devote this award to all the children around the Commonwealth countries who are operating to eliminate hunger from their countries. We need to feed people, not landfills.”

The entrepreneur also got the chance to speak about his work with none other than the Prince of Wales, Charles himself at the Commonwealth Day reception. “When I told him about the work we do at No Food Waste, he used to be more than happy. He mentioned that food is a large factor lately and used to be happy that I started this challenge at a young age. He added, ‘you might be artful and you'll be great in few years’. "

Padmanaban also spent some high quality time interacting with the winners from different areas. “Nigeria's Oluwaseun, who won the full prize of 2019 Commonwealth Young Person of the Year has been tirelessly operating for sexual abuse and rape sufferers. The tales she narrated had been spine-chilling. Solomon Island’s Bobby Siarani, addressed waste disposal problems with bio-gas development workshops. I used to be shocked to hear that bio fuel used to be an alien time period within the islands, until recently. Johanan Dujon from Saint Lucia, however, were operating on a strategy to convert seaweed right into a fertiliser that can be utilized in agriculture. I learnt how children in different nations tackled issues of their respective society. The Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland used to be all praise for the children.”

Padmanaban’s long run plans include making improvements to hunger mapping and coming up with innovative answers on reducing food waste and making improvements to food security. “From the time we introduced the initiative in 2015, we see a drastic trade in public in the case of food wastage. They now know what to do when there is extra food. That is a smart step certainly."

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