Sean Craig and Ryan Collins are working with about eighteen fellow students of Udacity, an online university, in at least five countries, to develop software that will "help people help people," as Sean says. These terrific young men came across Benefit Brownies and Waste Not Food Taxi on an international web forum (Quora), and offered to write this app specific to our mission of ending food waste in the greater Portland area and transporting excess food, instead, to people in need.
I am not a tech person, so please contact me if you'd like to reach Sean or Ryan, but I believe this app will work similarly to Uber, wherein when a business has food to donate, they simply notify the app. The program will ping the nearest volunteer driver, who can accept or decline the request (in which case the program will move on to the next nearest volunteer). It will identify our partner agencies, also nearest first, and allow them to accept or decline the donation. In this way, we are confident that a few minutes from a whole bunch of concerned citizens can completely eliminate edible food ending up in the trash.
Starbucks, just this week, announced that by this time next year, all of their leftover edible food in all stores will be donated rather than thrown out. Of course, we're on deck to help them get the food from their stores to nearby non-profit organizations who are feeding people in need. Hopefully their lead will inspire other companies to take on the same goal.
Back to Sean and Ryan -- they're writing this software to be open-source. Once we work out the kinks here in the Portland area, it will be available to any city or community anywhere that has a heart for the hungry and a desire to eliminate waste. Fellow students as far-flung as England, Morocco, New Zealand, and Germany have jumped on the band wagon and are eagerly getting the project underway. The main build effort, a remote hack-a-thon, will take place, simultaneously around the globe, the first and second weekends in April, so by the end of the month, we'll be implementing it!
What a marvelous way for students to create something useful and meaningful. Multiple organizations are working to reduce food waste all over the world, but not in conjunction with one another, and not for free. Of course, we also plan to offer Benefit Brownies sales for financial support, as all organizations have operational expenses. But as far as getting the work done, this is an entirely volunteer effort.
With all the discouraging news hitting us every day, isn't it terrific to hear about young people doing something meaningful, simply because they care?