According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 15.8 million children under 18 in the United States live in households where they are unable to consistently access enough nutritious food necessary for a healthy life. Although food insecurity is harmful to any individual, it can be particularly devastating among children due to their increased vulnerability and the potential for long-term consequences.
Children who do not have sufficient access to food are more likely to require hospitalization, are at higher risk for chronic health conditions such as anemia and asthma, have more frequent instances of oral health problems, and often have poorer physical/athletic quality of life. Food insecure children also may be at greater risk for truancy and school tardiness, and may experience increases in an array of behavior problems including fighting, hyperactivity, aggression, anxiety, mood swings, and bullying.
In particular, deficiencies in fresh produce highly affect early childhood development and overall health. Consumption of fruits and vegetables is proven to highly reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, as well as certain cancers. The World Health Organization has estimated that insufficient intake of fruit and vegetables causes around 14% of gastrointestinal cancer deaths, about 11% of ischaemic heart disease deaths and about 9% of stroke deaths worldwide.
Last year, over 144,000 people received food support through the Food Bank of Santa Barbara County, and its partners. Nearly half of those it serves are children. Of a total of 9.3 million pounds distributed, half of the Food Bank's food is fresh produce. However, while the Food Bank works hard to provide such fruits and vegetables, their system of collecting donations--lengthy phone calls, complex instructions, and the like--is taxing and inefficient.
Introducing Fresh Pick SB. Through the use of two simple mobile applications (available on both iOS and android) and a web application, we connect growers to volunteers, and organize the collection of fresh produce within minutes, rather than hours and days.
Using the first of our two mobile applications, Fresh Pick SB, growers can quickly set up their accounts with their name, email address, home address, phone number, and types of produce. Next, the grower submits his/her request for a pick using a simple form consisting of which of his/her trees is ready to be picked, when he/she is available to supervise the pick, and any special instructions/notes for the volunteers.
Using the second of our two mobile applications, Fresh Pick SB VolunteerHub, volunteers can quickly set up their accounts with their name, email address, and phone number. Upon the submission of a request by a grower, a notification with the address, availability, and number of volunteers needed appears on all volunteers' phones. If a volunteer chooses to click on the notification, VolunteerHub will open, and will show further details about the request, including type/amount of produce, the grower's contact information, and any special instructions from the grower, as well as a prompt to accept or decline the job. If enough volunteers choose to accept a request, the grower will then receive a notification that their pick has been accepted.
Using our web application, Fresh Pick SB Admin, the administrator of the system can view current/recent requests, grower information, volunteer information, and control the system. When enough volunteers accept a request, the admin can then contact the volunteers through the site, coordinate the pick, and send a push notification to the grower with the arranged pick information.
Over the course of Google I/O Extended, our team of four worked tirelessly to complete our expansive project--we encountered a variety of server issues, networking errors, and sleep-deprivation. In the future, we aim to provide a smart volunteer match service that will cause a request for a pick to first notify the volunteers who live closest to the request location, and then continue to the next closest volunteers, until enough have confirmed their participation. We would also like to implement a smart mapping service which would help the administrator to plan trips based on requests in close proximity.