Inspiration: When thinking of an idea, we all wanted to created something that addressed a direct challenge our local community was facing. When researching, we found that North Carolina alone has over 410,000 people living in over 117 food deserts, mostly concentrated in low-income, minority communities. This shocking fact inspired us to create a platform that brought power back to the people, and make nutrition both accessible and sustainable.

What it does:

Our website allows communities to come together to “desert the desert.” Community members can post recipes, leftover food they are giving away for free, food they would like to sell to community members, as well as events such as neighborhood potlucks and cookouts. Members can log in to view these posts as a feed, organized by multiple tabs, in order to become informed about local, healthy, and cost-effective food sources.

How we built it:

We used HTML and CSS as the basis for the frontend development and design of the website interface. This included creating multiple tabs for different forums that users could post onto and a login and register form. For backend data storing and user querying, we developed javascript functions that took in user inputs from form fields and generated forum posts with user information.

Challenges we ran into:

The challenges we faced came from our inexperience with web development and user interface design. Our inexperience made it difficult to work with a complex class system within the HTML files that imported the use of CSS files. We also had trouble loading data into a database and toyed with the AWS Dynamo DB but could not gain access with a student account.

Accomplishments that we're proud of:

We are proud to have created a product which we believe can have a profound social impact. Our website implements many different features all aimed at providing useful services to low-income communities in an accessible and user-friendly fashion. We consider it an accomplishment to have not only been able to create a website as first-time web-developers, but to have done so in a socially-conscious way.

What we learned:

As first-time web developers, we learned how to create a interactive, well-designed website that allows users to contribute to the forum that they are the members of. We also gained experience on the human side of things, learning to collaborate effectively on a technical project through delegating brainstorming idea, delegating features, and creating a final product we were all proud of.

What's next for Desert the Desert:

In the future, we hope to transfer our data-storing functionality from javascript functions to a dynamic, cloud-hosted AWS DynamoTable database. Additionally, we would like to potentially pilot this website in a local food desert within the Triangle area, such as Southeast Raleigh, so that we can see the real impact of our product.

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