LA: A city of vibrant activism and hidden opportunities

October 28, 2019
• by
Kirthi Gomatam

As a senior in the World Bachelor in Business program, I spent my first three years of university in three different cities: Los Angeles, Hong Kong, and Milan. I’ve never been able to pick a favorite: LA has beautiful weather and houses an incredible American college experience, Hong Kong moves at a pace unlike any other and embodies a unique blend of east and west, and Milan offers tasty food and speaks a lyrical, gorgeous language. While all these wonderful cities have pros, there are a number of benefits of being located in Los Angeles for college. The most unique benefit for me has been the exposure to organizations striving for change, especially in the food industry.


Last week, I stumbled upon a Food Policy Fair taking place in front of City Hall in Downtown LA. It was such good fortune since it perfectly aligned with my interests. In fact, I’m currently writing my senior thesis on models for restaurants to reduce food waste, a topic I became interested in since returning back to Los Angeles for my senior year. As a business major and computer programming minor, I’ve always been interested in the intersection of business and technology, but had no idea which industry to work in. After studying in Milan for a year, I became really interested in food, although mostly from a consumption standpoint. This year in LA, I started to learn more about the problem of food waste and was especially inspired by organizations such as Food Cycle LA, RecycLA, and LA Kitchen. LA is a pilot city for many sustainability-focused organizations, and after meeting the individuals at the food fair, I can see why.


The Food Policy Fair included representatives from various organizations in Los Angeles focusing on different aspects of food, from increasing healthy options in schools to reducing food waste in grocery stores to advocating home composting methods. I was so inspired by everyone’s warmth and obvious passion for their work, and I now see clear opportunities for my thesis to contribute towards solutions to this ever increasing problem in LA. I was able to speak to a few individuals at the fair and learned about how Food Cycle LA diverts otherwise wasted food to NGOs who serve the community. I talked to representatives of the LA Unified School District who were aiming to improve standards around food served in schools around the area. I tried out a “grape taste-test” demonstration used in schools to educate young students about different types of produce. The vibrancy of the fair perfectly encapsulated LA, a city of diverse thought and active spirit to solve complex problems.


Los Angeles is an extremely fun city for college, but what I learned after being at USC was that LA offers many unique out-of-school academic opportunities. I’ve learned so much by simply driving through the streets and seeing the drastic differences between neighborhoods, finding it shocking and surprising. What I failed to notice initially was how much effort has already been put into solving problems and how much opportunity there is to continue to build upon it. LA is a thriving city, and as a student in it, you have a wonderful opportunity to thrive as well.