1/3 of New York City waste in landfills is food waste. 50% of this waste comes from restaurants. Meanwhile, the homeless and other underserved individuals are going hungry every day. According to a study by the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, 1 in 6 NYC residents are food insecure. Wasteless aims to change that by providing a simple, streamlined way for homeless people to find surplus food and for generous companies and individuals to help people and reduce waste.

How it works

Restaurant managers or people managing events can easily broadcast the fact that they have extra food to give away by entering information about when food will be available and where to get it. A hungry homeless person can text their zipcode to our Twilio number to get a single message broadcasting the time and location of the food giveaways that are most relevant to them. Passerby looking to help a homeless person can check our web app on their smartphone for more detailed information about the food giveaways. This gives passerby a meaningful way to help a homeless person which is worth more than giving a few dollars would be.

Challenges we ran into

We have so many ideas for this service and the biggest challenge was distilling our ideas into a minimum viable product that we could complete in such a short time.

Accomplishments that we are proud of

We are proud of building a user friendly, functional, and secure web app from start to finish. We are also proud of coming up with a product that we feel could really help the city and citizens of New York.

What we learned

We learned a lot about PHP and also about the Twilio API! This challenge also made us think a lot about the challenges facing the homeless.

What's next for Wasteless

We plan to make a mobile version of the app so that we can get location data. Although a homeless person might not have a smartphone, someone walking by a homeless person would be able to quickly check the app and let the homeless person know of food giveaways. We also want to give restaurants the ability to log in to the app using Gmail so that they can edit or delete event or create recurring events. Finally, we are considering ways to make sure a particular location is not overwhelmed by a crowd by adding an SMS and mobile app RSVP step to the process.

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