As Hoboken residents, we know how essential food is to this town. There is not a day that goes by where Washington Street isn’t teeming with folks eager to fill their tummies with all the spectacular cuisines our city has to offer; from Stevens students grabbing a slice of pizza between classes to pastry enthusiasts visiting the famous Carlos Bakery, our culinary scene is a cornerstone of our community.
However, we also know that agriculture and food production accounts for almost 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. As consumers, it can often feel overwhelming to tackle sustainability, especially when large corporations, industries, and government bodies have the most influence over our future. People don’t always think they can make a difference but in reality, a community can be extremely impactful through using an app like potluck to make the process simple and effective. Furthermore, utilizing an application like this fosters local community growth.
What it does
Potluck is the harmonious intersection of our passion for Hoboken food and our devotion to the environment. The concept is simple: just like any other food app, users can search and browse food from restaurants near them. On the explore page, users will see posts from local businesses showing the food they are offering and its discounted price. Some restaurants will have a “Green Certified Business” badge next to their name if they meet the conditions we set to be considered to be a highly eco-conscious business, providing an added incentive for consumers to choose that restaurant. Users will be able to filter by cuisine, price, distance, closing time, vegan/vegetarian, green-certified, and more.
Once users find a post they are interested in, they will have three options: they can either purchase the food, donate the food, or save the restaurant’s profile. If they purchase the food, they can pay for it on the app and head to the restaurant to pick it up as a grab-and-go order. Saving the restaurant’s page will allow them to browse through the posts of their favorite restaurants in the future, and even get notifications when those restaurants make posts.
The option to donate food is what makes our app so unique compared to other food apps on the market. This aspect truly emphasizes the community-building that our app focuses on. Users will be able to browse different non-profit organizations in their area, learning what they’re all about and what food products they are specifically seeking. Then, they can choose to “sponsor a meal” for one of those nonprofits. They pay for the food, and it is given directly from the restaurant to the non-profit.
Additional pages include the search page, Green Info page, and profile page. The search page will allow users to locate restaurants on a map and search for specific cuisines or businesses they had in mind. On the Green Info page, users will find information and education resources regarding local green initiatives, green-certified businesses, sustainability practices, local non-profits, and other helpful tips and tricks from our Potluck team. This is to encourage sustainability in all aspects of day-to-day lives, even outside of our app. Finally, on their profile page, users can also see data regarding which restaurants they most commonly eat at, how much they have spent versus how much they have saved, and their recent purchases.
How we built it
We built Potluck using Figma to design different screen mockups and figure out the best way to organize our application. We also used XCode to write out the basics of the application in Swift although we were not able to complete this portion.
Two of our team members were Computer Science students and one was a Business and Technology student. Accordingly, we all brought different abilities to the table and were able to play to each of our strengths. As for challenges, we did not have much experience in application development so trying to build out a whole application was difficult in the time constraints. Nonetheless, we were able to learn a lot during this hackathon about application design, sustainability, and our community.
We are excited about the user interface of Potluck. It is intuitive and easy to use- most consumers will already have experience using similar food apps like UberEats. It is simplistic yet informative, and captivating to the eye. The app is a pleasure, which will encourage people to incorporate it into their daily lives. We look forward to potentially trying to further develop our project in actual code!
What's next for Potluck
There are many more features we would love to add to Potluck down the line! On the consumer side, we would like to provide the ability to share items on the app with friends. We also aim to provide a rewards system which awards points for every purchase you make on the app. These points will translate into real monetary discounts- if you earn 50 points, for example, you will receive a five dollar credit for your next purchase. Further discounts can also be provided for customers who bring in their own reusable containers as opposed to using plastic take-out containers; this is yet another way to promote sustainable habits for our app’s users.
On the business side, it would be powerful to provide analytics services so restaurants can track how much food they purchase and how much they end up actually using. Restaurants will never be able to perfectly predict how much food they will need on any given day or completely eliminate excess food, but we can build them the tools to get closer to that goal. And on the municipal level, we can help local governments host city-wide food waste challenges or other sustainability initiatives to facilitate growth and learning as a community.
Most of all, we want Potluck to help other tight-knit communities like ours, starting from our neighbor, Jersey City, to urban areas across the country. We truly believe that this app will transform how communities collaborate to move towards sustainability. It impacts every aspect of the community, from the businesses to the non-profits to the consumer. We are ready to see how Potluck will revolutionize sustainability in Hoboken and beyond.