On our first day of meeting, we realized we shared the common concern over food waste. As we are all passionate about sustainability in our own way, we were surprised to see the large impact from food waste. After the Food Waste Workshop, we decided we wanted to tackle the problem of food waste in our communities. The Chomp team was inspired to design this app due to the importance of food, food waste and the climate impact of food. Through our app, people are able to see the impact that their food choices have on the environment as well as how they can share their resources and build stronger communities. We realized there was a huge gap between those who have excess food and those who are food insecure and wondered how to bridge it. We were inspired by the Olio and JouleBug apps that promoted food access and sustainability. Informed consumers can be powerful climate change fighters!

What it does

The Chomp app allows users to share and access food within their communities and monitor their food carbon footprint. This access allows for the reduction of food waste and food insecurities. We feel very strongly about the redistribution of food! Redistribution of food brings excess food to where it's most needed.

The app provides information to users on nearby community fridges, what is in them and what is needed, information on the carbon footprint of different types of food. Individual users can make an account on the app that keeps track of their action steps (whether that be dropping off or picking up food) and these “points” can be contributed towards a tree-planting program, which furthers our goals of resourcefulness and giving back to the earth.

We hope to fulfill the following SDG goals: (2)Zero Hunger (3)Good health and wellbeing (10)Reduce inequality (11)Sustainable cities and communities (12)Responsible consumption (13)Climate action

Through our research, we found that 58% of all the food produced in Canada is wasted annually, which is the equivalent of 36.5 million tonnes of food or $49 billion worth of food. This is even more shocking because ⅛ of Canadians qualify as food insecure.

With our app, we hope to match the supply with needs. For Zero Hunger and Good Health and Wellbeing, we hope to cut down on food waste and make sure people get the food they need to be healthy. For Reduced Inequality, we hope to reduce the stigma around community fridges and create a more level playing ground for people’s equal access to food. For Sustainable Cities and Communities, we hope to promote sustainable practices and community building and collaboration. For Responsible Consumption, we hope that people will become more aware of the impact of their food choices and be more conscious of what they choose to consume. For Climate Action, we are confident that our app’s goals of reducing food waste will lead to lowered emissions and bring Canada down from being the 3rd highest in GHG emissions.

How we built it

We started by deciding on a particular problem to address and settled on the impact of food on climate change. We defined the various problems with food waste and food insecurity. To get an idea of consumer behaviour and choices regarding food, we created a survey to assess the consideration surrounding food choices. Here are the results of our survey (over 70 responses): We wanted to understand the grocery habits and preferences of consumers. We asked questions such as what is most important to you and what you struggle with most while grocery shopping.

Based on these results, we decided to create an app that was user-friendly and accessible. We focused on creating a user-centered app. In order to do so, we created personas, user journeys, and mapping. We identified three main users: eco-friendly city-dwellers, busy working individuals, and low-income families. We identified their gain and pain points to better understand each type of user. We used the various users’ gain and pain points and translated them into app features. To demonstrate our idea, we used Figma to create a prototype of our app design. In this prototype, we outline the main features of the app: the fridge locator, inputting and taking food, information about the carbon footprint of foods and the point system associated with using the fridges. We focused on creating a simple interface that will be accessible to all. In order to best reach all community members, we also included talk-to-text and other help features for those who may need it.

Challenges we ran into

In creating Chomp, our group ran into technical issues such as logistics and app features. We were mindful of the fact that many users may not have access to mobile phones and may also have accessibility needs such as vision impairments and reduced mobility. We hope to be more inclusive by encouraging community fridges to have a device on site for those who may not have a personal device. Another solution could be having a paper sign up to keep track of the foods.

Another challenge we encountered was the various solutions that were already implemented. There were many solutions who also focused on food waste. Researching what was already out there took more time than we had planned. After researching, we found that many people had already implemented our - what we thought were original - ideas. We had to spend more time coming up with creative solutions.

With Chomp, we are confident that it takes the awesome ideas from these existing resources and brings them into one convenient, user-friendly app that brings benefits to people and the planet.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We are proud of our team's cohesiveness, Figma model, PowerPoint and survey results.

None of us knew each other until the start of the Hackathon. We all come from different academic backgrounds, interests, countries and yet, we were able to come together over a shared passion for solving the problem of food waste. We got along well as a team and were able to support one another while also allowing each of our unique skillsets shine. Through the process, we were able to learn from one another and be inspired.

This was most of our first hackathons, so to be able to come together and create a feasible solution within 2 days has been rewarding, exhilarating and motivating for us in our future endeavours.

Even though we were all from different time zones and countries, we were able to work well together as a team. We also had a lot of fun while finding solutions to various problems.

For our Figma model, we are proud that we were able to convey the main parts of our idea with a seemingly simple interface that is effective.

In terms of the survey, we sent it out hoping to get a few responses. We were really grateful that over 70 people participated. The survey results were really beneficial in understanding consumers and helped in designing our prototype. It demonstrates that people care about these issues and we hope to continue our research and development of our solution to further address these needs.

What we learned

The impact of food on climate change is often overlooked and underrecorded. We were really shocked to find that food waste was one of the main contributing factors to greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. 3.3 billion tonnes of CO2 are emitted annually in Canada just due to food waste. We didn’t realize it played such a huge role and we immediately wanted to look more into the issue and its solutions. We wanted to make it more personal and tackle an issue that affects everyone’s daily lives.

We were also shocked to find that a large percentage of food is lost and wasted annually. We produce enough food for everyone in the world to be food secure. In fact, in Canada, we provide enough food for everyone to eat 4x the current amount. It was eye-opening to find that redistribution of food played such a vital role.

Through our survey, we found that consumers do not rank food waste as a major concern in grocery shopping considerations. In fact, most people underestimate the amount of food waste they create. When we were talking among our group, we were all really aware of our food waste and spoke about how we can reduce our own food waste. We thought more people would be more conscious about it.

It was surprising to find that $49 billion worth of food is wasted in Canada annually. If we redistributed the food in a more effective manner, then we could reallocate that money to other issues.

What's next for Chomp - Carbon-footprint, community food access app

We hope to start Chomp in individual communities and allow it to grow. One of our ideas for exposure was to start a social media campaign. For example, we would have a Facebook page where people can post about interesting fridges they see or an Instagram page that posts about “fridge profiles” that describe fun facts about each fridge’s locations. With this, we hope to make community fridges a relevant part of everyone’s lives. Additionally, we hope that more people will be inspired to start fridges in their own communities to grow the network.

We also wanted to go more in-depth about how much food waste costs. Costs may include trash fees, gas fees to transport trash, and more. We believe that presenting cost savings to various restaurants, corporations and trash companies can push them to do better. We may also want to get restaurants and grocery stores to donate food that is not being sold due to cosmetic reasons.

Lastly, we wanted to think about how we can expand Chomp. We could decide on where to start our pilot project. Being strategic about the area of where we put Chomp could make a big impact. For example, there are various cities where high-income and low-income households live in the same city. These areas could be beneficial since there will be people contributing and taking from the community fridge. We could go a completely different route and join forces with Freedge currently maps out community fridges but doesn’t go into detail as to what items are available and the environmental impact. We believe that Chomp can break the stigma with community fridges by bringing the community together.

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