The struggle of balancing meal plans and eating out is a universal experience for all college students. For many, college is the first time individuals are financially independent. When faced with the responsibility of managing their own meals, students tend to overspend. Many of our peers are either left with hundreds of meal swipes left, or they run out before the semester is over. Not only is this equivalent to thousands of dollars in wasted money—which is a big deal to a college student—but it also results in wasted food, resources, and a worse Carolina Dining experience. This web app was created to help students learn to be financially independent during their first few years out of their homes.

What it does

Heel Meals allows users to make an account to track their meal plan and food spending budget. The web app will automatically calculate the recommended weekly meal swipes and eating out budget. This way, students will not have excess swipes leftover or run out before the semester ends. There is also a social aspect to post if you have extra swipes to donate or need meal swipes that week. Not only can this help with food scarcity, but it can also encourage student socialization and help foster a closer campus community powered by food!

How we built it

The majority of our Heel Meals web app was built using HTML, CSS, and Javascript. Design-wise, we aimed to have a simple, user-friendly, and intuitive user interface to increase accessibility and usability. Heel Meals is comprised of 3 main pages: signup, select a meal plan, and a main page which includes 1) a weekly and semester view of one's swipes and budget and 2) a social forum where students can share swipes, as well as invite other users to dine with them. New users signup for an account, select their meal plan and food spending budget. After this, our Heel Meals algorithm calculates the recommended swipe and budget for the user on a weekly and semester basis. Heel Meal's responsive interface allows users to always interact with it throughout the semester, either by decrementing swipes or taking away from their weekly spending budget. This constant usage empowers students to take charge of their financial planning on a daily basis, and foster everyday actions to achieve a financially literate and secure future.

Challenges we ran into

This was many of our first times tackling web development. We faced challenges integrating Javascript backend functionality with HTML and CSS. Additionally, creating a user interface that was both intuitive yet also functional was difficult, as we had to shift our focus to human behavior to create a frictionless experience. Apart from technical challenges, we also navigated the shifting dynamics from friends to co-developers, and had to learn to separate personal feelings from ensuring an inclusive and efficient working environment.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Successfully integrating these languages into a clean web app with an easy-to-use interface.

What we learned

Better practice with JavaScript, HTML, and CSS.

What's next for Heel Meals

Partnering with Carolina Dining to make the swipe updates automatic and expanding to other campuses! Meal swipe management is a universal college struggle.

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