2022 in Review: Forward Future

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Thirty-three million Americans are food-insecure. This food insecurity, especially among disadvantaged communities, was only exacerbated by rising prices alongside a pandemic in its third year.

To help hunger assistance organizations like food banks and food pantries fight food insecurity, we began brainstorming ideas and eventually created Forward Future in May of 2022. Over the rest of the year, we turned our ideas into a reality.

Within this year, we built a new app and coordinated donations of over 61,000 pounds of food worth over $76,000. However, this was a significant process, and we have a multitude of people to thank.

Stage 1: Building FoodNex

Welcome to FoodNex

Our primary idea was FoodNex, an app helping digitize food donations to hunger assistance organizations. Understanding the typical food donation pathway is crucial here: people and companies donate food to hunger assistance organizations, which distribute their food to people in need.

However, many organizations continue using paper-and-pencil systems, which are slow and prone to error. Instead, FoodNex offers a digitized system where donors can see what a pantry or food bank needs and offer a donation, which a pantry can accept or reject. If the pantry accepts the donation, the app displays donor contact information, making it easy for both sides to figure out donation logistics.

Before we could help manage donations, however, we needed to begin building FoodNex. We collaborated with local food pantries throughout this process and drew upon many of our team’s experiences volunteering at such organizations. We remain grateful to these organizations, which enabled us to effectively brainstorm, develop, and test essential features.

By the end of July, FoodNex was released on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, ending a rapid development process that far surpassed expectations.

Stage 2: Trials

After publishing the app for public use, multiple food pantries started trialing the app, including the Stewpot, a Dallas-based food pantry that helped us develop. We received incredibly positive feedback from these organizations and important constructive feedback that helped us iteratively develop the app:

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

Stage 3: Steady Use

Organizations began finishing FoodNex trials in late October. Then, they started using FoodNex to track donations digitally, making the process much easier. This ease was reflected in these organizations’ continued use of the app.

By the end of the year, FoodNex coordinated donations of over 61,000 pounds of food worth over $76,000.


I want to thank the rest of the Forward Future team for getting us to where we are as an organization today. Organizations using FoodNex and donors donating through the app also deserve a significant thank you, alongside other organizations fighting this vital issue.

Finally, thank you for reading this article. Please share it if you found it interesting or would like to help us in our fight against food waste and food insecurity.

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