These Penn freshmen created a food donation app during the blizzard - Generocity Philly

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Jan. 27, 2016 9:41 am

These Penn freshmen created a food donation app during the blizzard

Built during last weekend's PennApps hackathon, Foodship connects restaurants with leftover food to homeless shelters.

Mmm, yummy.

(Photo by Flickr user PROessgee51, used under a Creative Commons license)

When the blizzard hit last Friday, it’s safe to say most Philadelphians wanted nothing but to remain dormant — quite possibly under a fortress of blankets with a mug of hot cocoa.

That’s not what the horde of technologists hacking together apps and services at the latest iteration of the PennApps hackathon did. One cadre of hackers — University of Pennsylvania freshmen Sanjana Sarkar, Victoria Huang, Abha Vedula and Ming Zhang — built a donation app they’re calling Foodship.

We’ve heard of Earthships. We’ve even heard of Kensington space ships. What’s a Foodship?

It’s a web app that connects homeless shelters to restaurants looking to donate their leftover food. So, kind of like the Food Connect Group, but without doing the actual delivery. Foodship is just the connector.

“Our idea is that restaurants have lots of food left over every day and we don’t want that food to go to waste, so we want to donate it to homeless shelters,” Vedula said.

It’s also just a prototype — these students put this thing together over a weekend. They haven’t looked into the logistics and legality of actually running Foodship as a business, but as a platform in theory, it works.

The team — all school pals — said they had to pick up a few new coding languages over the weekend to get it to function correctly; read more about how they built it here. This is only their second hackathon.

“A lot of us started building functions that started failing so we really had to scratch our process and start again,” Sarkar said. “This whole iteration thing took up a lot of time.”

But it was worth it. Foodship took home PennApps’ Social Impact/Civic Hacking prize.

It may not be active, but the team said they’d love to get it up and running.

“We really want to continue it,” Vendula said. “We need to add a lot of improvements to it. We do want to implement it and work on it further.”

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