We were still brainstorming ideas when we arrived at the hackathon. However, one thing struck as a big problem that still does not have a solution. The distribution of food. A lot of the subway sandwiches here were taken by people who later decided not to eat them. This often resulted in entire sandwiches gone to waste. After researching online, the facts and figures about the amount of food waste by restaurants shocked our team: Food loss per day amounted to 49,296,540 lbs in all full service restaurants and 85,063,390 lbs in all fast food restaurants. After seeing the problem, we came up with the solution, we came up with a food distribution system where extra food at the end of the day can be donated by donors to a nearby homeless center.
What it does
Our app, Food is a gift, takes food from potential donors who have extra food lying around and pairs volunteers to pick up food who in turn donate food to nearby homeless centers. Homeless centers are often neglected and do not receive as many as donations as they should. However, restaurants who have extra food at the end of day can put it up for donation rather than throw it away.
There are two separate platforms for this project: a webapp and an ios app. We wanted to get a bigger user base and try some new platforms to learn at this hackathon. Both the webapp and ios app allow users to sign up and volunteer/donate food. Then it pairs them based on location and gives a notification on all the necessary details to aid a smooth delivery of food.
How we built it
The webapp was designed using html5/css and react.js. React.js was used for building the user interface of the website and it updates the components of the website where the data gets updated and sent to firebase to be handled just like the ios app. The form handles the data from the volunteer and donor such as the time, date, and location. This in turn gets processed by firebase and handles the information necessary to convey to the volunteer.
The mobile app was coded in swift using xcode. The backend of the ios app is connected to the firebase where all the data from the donors and volunteers are collected and stored. The backend does the handling to find the volunteers to the closest homeless center. On both the donor and volunteer page, they both see the location with a map. This uses mapkit which displays the location after getting the handling back from firebase.
Challenges we ran into
1.The map was not being updated accurately and was throwing false coordinates. To solve this, we had to research a better method of updating the map. 2.We ran into a problem with bridging the C-code to swift code as we did not have much ios experience. 3.Integrating firebase into the webapp and saving authentication was not working.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
1.Getting the ios app to work completely and integrated with the backend. Our team had limited experience with ios but we wanted a challenge and wanted to explore new platforms. 2.The ui/ux of the website was very well designed as we spent time designing color schemes and icons. 3.Getting the backend to be completely integrated along with the map as it was a major hurdle to pass We are ultimately proud and thankful that we are able to make a product that can make a difference in people’s lives and can help them for the better.
What we learned
We learned how to develop a complete app in ios with integration on firebase. Previous to this hackathon, we didn’t have much knowledge with swift and xcode. But now, our team can readily design and develop an app that integrates with firebase. There were a lot of nitty gritty bugs that were unknownst to our team while we are coding and struggled a lot. We learned how to implement maps and location in our project to aid our cause. We learned how to use authentication in firebase to validate the users who sign up.
What's next for The Gift of Food
Our goal is to continue improving the data handling and adding more features such as reminders using pubnub or twilio. Notifications can be sent to the volunteers and donors nearby. We want to talk to nearby homeless centers and hopefully even deploy in real-life as this project has shown us that even a student can be the difference for the impoverished. Incentives such as charity points can be given to donors.