By Nathan Mestel, Founder and CEO, age 14.
In March of 2021, while I was sitting in remote school at home, a teacher wrote me an email saying that, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Research and Development Forum would be continuing, with one big change. In place of the usual plethora of categories and age groups, there would be one big competition for everyone; The Next Great Idea. It functioned pretty similarly to Shark Tank: Contestants came up with a solution to an existing problem, and pitched their idea to a panel of judges. Video submissions were initially taken, and the best entries advanced to the finals. The three best ideas received funding to make their projects a reality. If you'd like to see where the R&D Forum is at now, take a look here at (https://www.smsd.org/academics/rd-forum).
My idea evolved over time into what it is today, but my initial idea came to me as I was wandering around my house aimlessly, looking for problems to solve. I saw an issue of The Week Jr. (Great publication for kids, by the way) lying on my desk. Detailed on the cover was a study done by the United Nations on global food waste, filled with several shocking statistics and comparisons. After reading more about it, I knew I had to do something to aid the fight against food waste. Following a bit of research on commonly wasted foods, I decided that I wanted to help by making cheese out of wasted milk. After looking into if this idea would even be possible, I realized that just reusing the milk wouldn't be making a big enough impact to make a difference, and that emphasizing education and awareness was the best thing I could do with what resources I had available. After my project won the R&D Forum and $1,500 in grants, the Milk of Human Kindness evolved into what it is today, going from a school project to a full-fledged business. It's been a great experience, and I wouldn't have missed it for the world.