We were inspired to make an app that helps solve the food waste epidemic when we heard just how big the problem is. Over 40, 000 tons of food waste was produced in just the United States in 2017 and over 70% of that food waste ended up in a landfill. Digging further into research, we found that in 2014, 12% of Americans experienced food insecurity. We saw these two problems and thought that by helping reduce one, you could reduce the other: if there is less food waste produced, there will be more food available to donate to those in need. This inspired us to create an app that helps households keep track of their food inventories as well as facilitate the exchange of food to ensure that food will be used before it expires.

What it does

Our app, Spoonful, helps households keep track of their food inventories by allowing them to scan or type items into its local database. It keeps information secure by locking it behind a user authentication system. Spoonful also facilitates food exchange by allowing families to post food they have too much of or overestimated their usage of as well as requests for needed items. Households can scroll through the database of items and find requests they can fill or items they want for themselves. The households can then contact one another to make the exchange occur. This connects neighbors with neighbors and helps prevent food waste by ensuring that a party who will use the food consumes it before the expiry date.

How we built it

Spoonful was built using the Thunkable Platform, firebase realtime database, airtable, microsoft image recognition, and various other APIs. Thunkable was used to host the code, firebase realtime database was used to store login and password information in a secure manner, airtable was used for local inventory list storage as well as for the requests and food listings, microsoft image recognition was used for scanning food items to be place in the household inventory, and the various other APIs were used for general app functionality. The branding of Spoonful was designed by the team using Logomakr and Procreate.

Challenges we ran into

One challenge we ran into was with the image processing and AI recognition software. In order for our app to accomplish scan with a 100% success rate, more training will have to be done to the system. We also had a few challenges working remotely. Sharing ideas and screen is definitely easier in person.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We are very proud of working through the challenges we faced to create the app we did. We are very proud of our branding and technical capabilities of Spoonful.

What we learned

We learned a lot about the state of the food waste epidemic in this country, and just how dire the situation is. We learned about the implementation of AI photographic object detection as weill as web AI plugins and creating apps in general.

What's next for Spoonful: Give a Cup of Sugar

In the future, we hope to expand this app with stronger machine learning and AI object detection with platforms such as the Google Vision API as well as our own training models to enhance user experience and the ease of use. We began experimenting with this software, and hope to continue with its development. In addition, we would like to create an alert like system that will notify users of expiration dates and provide recipe, exchange, or donation options. We would also like to partner with local food banks to provide individuals with a direct path to donate unwanted or extra food. Since the topic is important to us, we would like to express this to the user by, in the future, creating an interactive data visualization tool that shows the impact of food waste to our app users.

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