Dylan's Trail Mix
10-year-old Dylan Friedman Almond is on a mission to help ease the hunger of Malibu's homeless population, one bag of trail mix at a time.
Written by Caroline Laganas | Photographed by Julie Wuellner
Pretzels, chocolate, almonds, peanuts and tiny pieces of dried mangos. Those are the ingredients in 10-year-old Dylan Friedman Almond’s favorite trail mix recipe. But the recipe isn’t intended for her — it’s for the homeless population in her local community.
“At my local preschool, they serve the homeless at Thanksgiving,” Dylan Friedman Almond said. “I asked my mom, ‘What are they going to eat after this?’ She didn’t know, so I came up with the idea of making trail mix for them to bring back.”
Friedman Almond started the Dylan’s Trail Mix Project when she was just 5-years-old. Every Thanksgiving, she makes bags of trail mix and hands them out to the homeless and those in need at the Methodist Church.
“It makes me really happy, especially when I go to give out the trail mix,” Dylan said. “I know I’ve done the right thing and all the work I put into it was worth it.”
When she began the project, her teachers and peers at Juan Cabrillo Elementary School donated ingredients and helped Dylan assemble the bags. When she moved to a new school in second grade, Westland, she started to donate the biodegradable bags to Hope Gardens, an LA-based homeless charity.
“With my trail mix, there’s always a nice note saying something encouraging,” Dylan said. “I want [those in need] to know people love them because all they really need is love.” At last year’s event, Dylan saw someone walking around with a note from the previous year taped to his shirt.“That made me really happy,” she said. This year, Trader Joe’s helped donate the ingredients and Dylan and her friends made 270 bags of trail mix.
“We got donations this year and Trader Joe’s helped us with that,” she said. “The manager thought my idea was cool so they gave us two big bags of food to help.”
Dylan also launched her own website in the hopes of spreading her idea. “The reason I made the website was because I want other kids to do this in their local communities with their schools so they can help their homeless and those in need,” she said.
With the help of her friend, Friedman Almond created a how-to video on her website for viewers to learn how to start their own trail mix projects. “I want to start uploading more content on my website on a regular basis,” Friedman Almond said. With the start of middle school soon approaching, Friedman Almond plans to share her project with her soon-to-be new classmates.
“There are over 1,000 kids [at Viewpoint School] so we’d be able to make a lot of food,” she said.
The Malibu community recognized her hard work this year by presenting her with the Dolphin Award, making her the youngest-ever honoree. Local publications such as the Malibu Times and Malibu Surfside News have also highlighted her project over the years. “It’s been really fun and it’s made me proud and happy for Dylan,” her mother, Dana Friedman said. “I think it’s really exciting and empowering when you have an idea and see it come to fruition with such a positive response — whether it’s from people receiving the food, or the community that’s been so supportive.”
When Friedman Almond doesn’t have her hands full with trail mix, she can be found singing, playing the ukulele, piano and drums, surfing, playing with her dog and hanging out with her friends and family. “When I grow up, I want to be a singer but I still want to do things for the homeless and those in need in the community,” Friedman Almond said. MM