All of the FoodNex team have extensive experience volunteering with food pantries and food banks throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, and some even occasionally seek out food at these areas. Through this, we’ve realized the severity of the issue: food insecurity. Hundreds of families each event seek food assistance from surrounding pantries, and the process is always straining for all parties involved. With our team’s technical foundations, we sought to reduce this and allow more foodstuff to be directed towards those in need through our app - FoodNex.
What does FoodNex Do
FoodNex is a mobile application that connects businesses and individuals with surplus food to hunger assistance organizations in their area. Through the application, users can view nearby food pantries and banks, send custom donation requests to food banks and food pantries to ensure that food banks and food pantries can use the donation items, and create as many requests as they would like anytime and send to as many food banks and food pantries.
How we built it
This application was built through the Flutter SDK, an open-source software development kit made by Google. For our backend, we are using the Back4App platform, and we are using OpenSignal to handle push notifications for our users.
Challenges we ran into
By building this app, we encountered numerous challenges along the way. First, ensuring that our database would not be overloaded in requests was imperative was we would not be able to afford the extra database costs in our plans.
In order to develop the application, we needed to know what features pantries needed in order to fully tailor our app. We met with the Stewpot, one of the largest food pantries in the Dallas-Forth Worth Metroplex, the Food Group - Minnesota, the second largest food bank in the state with over 230 partner agencies, and the CARE Corps Food Pantry, a local pantry serving those in need in the city of Richardson. From our meetings, we received positive feedback on how the app could transform the way these organizations operate. We’ve gotten responses such as:
This feels like Christmas, but for the next ten years. We’ve been looking for something like this forever. Rob Guild, Food Recovery Specialist @ The Stewpot
A web implementation of FoodNex will be released later this year for pantries who would prefer an interface to be used on desktop devices. We are also currently building an inventory management and volunteer management system, which are scheduled to be released as Phase 2 of FoodNex in Q2 of 2023. These programs will be priced at $50/month with the donation management section of FoodNex remaining free forever.