When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Then share! We were inspired by the recent events regarding food insecurity. While food insecurity among the population did exist prior to the pandemic, it became a much bigger issue this year. Many families lost sources of income and could not even afford to have food on the table. Many others took trips to food banks and food pantries, only to wait in extremely long lines and sometimes not return with food. Research shows that around 80 billion pounds of food is thrown away each year, just in the United States. We believe that this is unacceptable, especially given this year’s circumstances and hope that our project helps alleviate this issue.

What it does

Lemon connects food insecure people looking for access to nutrition with multiple options to find food for free. Since the start of the pandemic, the options to find cheap food or free food have been significantly reduced, while the demand for resources for food insecurity have only increased. Lemon is an app made for the pandemic times where businesses or vendors with excess food can give away food using our web application, and patrons of the iOS application can be placed in a queue which lets them know when it is their turn to pick up the food. Like picking up takeout from restaurants, Lemon adds the ease and the infrastructure to connect businesses looking to donate food that would otherwise be wasted to people in need of the food.

How we built it

There were 2 parallel development cycles we focused on: the customer-facing iOS application and the vendor-facing web application. First, we configured our application with firebase, for collecting data of customers’ queue status and the vendors’ information of what food they want to give away. For the iOS application, after some research into our customer segmentation, we came up with a rough UI/UX using, a prototype building platform. Following this, we used, a no-code web app builder, to make a web application for Lemon. The web app can be used by people who don’t have access to a smartphone but can use a computer. In terms of the iOS app, we made a multi-screen SwiftUI application on XCode. The application featured many of Swift’s component libraries and MapKit, the Apple Maps software development kit.

Challenges we ran into

For our idea, our top priority is to make our app inclusive to all populations, however, we ran into challenges when considering the population of people living in food deserts. For that, we decided to eventually roll out a program where volunteers can sign up to recover food for patrons who cannot pick up the food or live in food deserts. We ran into developmental challenges when we tried to connect the FireBase database with XCode, a known issue with our operating system and the version of XCode we were all using. Somehow, when we tried to push our data onto GitHub, it started completely force quitting our XCode IDE. Due to this issue, we had to change our action plan to make the minimum viable product and ended up losing hours.

Accomplishments that we’re proud of

We were set back by many hours because of our technology issues, but we are proud of our efforts to bring together the application in spite of all the issues. Our extensive collaboration and organization with kanban boards and MVP mentality helped us create a product we truly feel passionate about.

What's next for Lemon

The next steps for Lemon is to implement APIs to offer users directions to each establishment giving away food. Another thing is to include filters for the home page: type of food, distance, time left etc. We want to understand and leverage any good samaritan laws for donating foods that incentivize businesses to donate into the app.

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