Inspiration: I was inspired to do this project one day when I was at a grocery store with my dad. I was heading to pick some yogurt cups when found out the ones I had picked were over a week expired. This got me thinking; how much food do supermarkets waste? After some research, I found out that supermarkets waste about 43 billion pounds of food, and that's just in the United States. For this reason, I wanted to build an app that was able to alert supermarkets about near expiry food, allowing them to donate it to food banks or needy people.
What it does: When people shelf items, they can scan the item's barcode with my app and enter the item's expiry date. With this, the app stores all the items into a product list, where it stores the UPC (barcode), date of expiry, and the product's name (which it retrieves from the barcode). Then, the supermarket managers can run a query on the product list, entering a date, and it will return all of the products that expire either on or before that date. Supermarkets would be okay with donating these foods as consumers would not want to buy near expired products and it is better for them to be consumed by the needy and hungry rather than letting them become expired and ending up in the landfill.
How I built it: I used MIT App Inventor and a barcode lookup API.
Challenges I ran into: The main challenges I ran in to were querying the product list, as it required a lot of logical thinking and trial and error.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of: Some accomplishments I am proud of was creating an app where I learned and used a lot of new functions I have never tried before and integrated an API into my app.
What I learned: I learned more about how I can use MIT App Inventor to make more advanced apps.
What's next for No Food Waste: If I come in contact with store owners, the supermarkets can purchase the premium version of the smartphone app, as the current version only allows 50 free searches (so don't exceed that limit!) Also, I can create a more user-friendly platform with a better UI and integrate more query features, but time constraints did not allow me to do so. Additionally, I could make another app for home use, so people would know when items in their house will expire and use them before that date. I could also make this available on iOS devices.
National Geographic special award: I am, for one, a young student (I am 14 years old). I believe engaging people in hackathons and building apps to solve world problems will keep students educated in these times.