EPA P3 Funded Project to Build App to Address Food Waste and Insecurity on College Campuses
February 16, 2022 1:00 PM -
Food waste and insecurity are significant issues with the national average of food insecurity standing at approximately 28% on college campuses. Our student population matches that figure based on a 2018 campus survey. Rapidly identifying, recovering, and redirecting unused foodstuffs to students in need is therefore critical to improve student health and redress this issue of social inequity. Our mobile application, Campus Plate (TM) is designed to efficiently coordinate food distribution networks that have been hindered by the absence of a centralized hub for sharing information. In this project, therefore, an interdisciplinary team of Sustainability and Computer Science faculty and students have built a mobile application that will be accessible via Android and iOS to allow food to be listed and recovered on college campuses. The application uses various sensors on the device to capture descriptions of food that is listed and verify that the location of the food at designated Sustainable FoodStops (TM) on campus is a valid location for retrieval. Similarly, food retrieval is verified using onboard sensors on the device. By enabling food to be recovered from Dining Services and university events, we expect both food waste and food insecurity to be reduced on campus. Additionally, by utilizing a model that allows for those recovering food to choose which foods they wish to recover through a granular reservation system, we seek to provide greater agency to those on the receiving end of food than previously has been possible. Our first test launch of the completed beta model of the app is scheduled for April 9th, 2021 with committed campus partners involved including the David & Frances Brain Center for Community Engagement, Dining Services, the Black Cultural Center, Lou Higgins Recreation Center, and Residence Life. Full deployment of the app for the entire student body is scheduled for the start of the FA21 semester.