The official student news site of Dougherty Valley High School.

The Wildcat Tribune

The official student news site of Dougherty Valley High School.

The Wildcat Tribune

The official student news site of Dougherty Valley High School.

The Wildcat Tribune

DVHS Juniors Awarded “Student Humanitarians of the Year” at annual MLK ceremony

PlateToPeople volunteers collect food donations from a local farmers market. // PlateToPeople

Dougherty Valley juniors Noor and Robi Tozul Ahmad, and Vedant Kathrani were recognized as the “Youth Humanitarians of the Year” at the Contra Costa County’s Martin Luther King Jr. ceremony on Jan. 15. 

The trio was commended for spearheading PlateToPeople a non-profit committed to fighting world hunger by rescuing leftover food from restaurants and farmers’ markets and distributing it to the homeless population. Since its inception in 2023, PlateToProfit has donated over 1571 pounds of food through its partnership with White Pony Express, a food rescue organization.

“We came to know about White Pony Express at the very beginning [of our journey], and their goal of serving the homeless and alleviating hunger really aligned with ours. We began to partner on food drives with them,” Noor Ahmad said.

Having worked in restaurants before, Noor and Robi Ahmad had witnessed first-hand the amount of food going to waste each day. Based on these experiences, the twins and Kathrani concluded that surplus food could be redistributed to homeless shelters in order to limit food insecurity and provide healthy, high-quality meals to those who could not afford them otherwise.

They observed that farmers’ markets, especially the locations in Livermore, Concord, and Fremont, often had leftover food that could be repurposed. PlateToPeople volunteers began to visit these local farmers’ markets and they collected food donations to repackage and distribute securely. 

However, they initially faced adversity in the form of concerns over the legitimacy of their work.

“There were some restaurants we went to that turned us down. Part of it could have been because we’re students, and there are adults who have been doing the same work for longer periods of time,” Kathrani expressed. 

One of the main struggles the team faced throughout the process was obtaining the 501(c)(3) verification to establish themselves as a certified non-profit. 

“At first we didn’t know where to begin. All we had was the passion and drive to repurpose food and feed the homeless, but when we finally got accepted, [the nonprofit status] gave us confidence and motivation to keep going,” Noor Tozul Ahmad said.

After being cleared, volunteers began to visit more farmers’ markets every Sunday, collecting food that would be packaged and donated through White Pony Express. The goal of these trips was to establish life-long partnerships and simplify the volunteers’ process of procuring food. Months of efforts and over 1300 donated meals later, Kathrani and Noor and Robi Ahmad were awarded the “MLK Youth Humanitarian of the Year” award by the Contra Costa County. 

The recognition helped us spread awareness to everyone, and since we’re high school students running this, it will hopefully inspire other kids to help out

— Robi Tozul Ahmad

“The recognition helped us spread awareness to everyone, and since we’re high school students running this, it will hopefully inspire other kids to help out,” Robi Tozul Ahmad said

As their impact on the Contra Costa community grew, the original team of three increased to over 30 staff members and volunteers. The non-profit now includes distinct teams, such as the finance team and logistics team. While these teams manage more of the day-to-day operations, the founders oversee the expansion of the organization and are more focused on finding new channels to acquire and donate food.

“We got more high schoolers involved. So now [we are] also teaching the younger generation to be involved in creating a sustainable environment,” Noor Ahmad said.

As the success of PlateToPeople increases, the original team stresses the importance of a growth mindset, aiming to take their organization to new heights and inspiring DVHS students to contribute. Aside from becoming more aware of the food they consume daily, Kathrani and Noor and Robi Tozul Ahmad advise students to consciously eliminate their food waste at school.

Ultimately, the founders highlighted their commitment and goal of reducing food waste and hunger on a larger scale, emphasizing that PlateToPeople would be here for the long run. Noor and Robi Tozul Ahmad elaborated that their plans beyond high school are to continue PlateToPlate and make their goals a reality. 

“Our official goal is to become a nationwide movement: to find more sources of food waste, to donate more food and save more lives,” Robi Tozul Ahmad said.

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Ananya Mukherjee
Ananya Mukherjee, Web Manager
Ananya joined the Tribune to emerge from her comfort zone and write about important topics that she is passionate about. She was the assistant web manager last year. In her free time, she likes to travel, listen to music, and binge-watch Gilmore Girls. Her goal for this year is to be versatile and write for every section. If she could be anyone on the Tribune, she would be Saanvi for her endless positivity and knowledge of sports.
Shreyas Sambara
Shreyas Sambara, News Copy Editor
Shreyas stayed on the Tribune because it enabled him to dig deeper into issues he other wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to. This is his fifth year doing journalism, and before he joined the Tribune, he was in the Journey program for two years. In his free time, Shreyas likes to play soccer, travel, and play video games. His goal for journalism this year is to continue to discover and bring to light hidden voices in his community through his love for profile stories. If Shreyas could be anyone on the Tribune, he would be a combination of Jack and Kush because they have such interesting and unique personalities.

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