Lehigh University's Hungry Hawks app is helping to address food waste and food insecurity on campus by providing students with access to leftover food from campus events. The app service was initially the brainchild of a group of Lehigh students, but has since grown to a fully featured app for the campus community.
According to an official university release, the first iteration of the meal leftover program consisted of group text messaging that spread the word about free leftover food on an informal basis. The messaging method has now been taken to the next level with a new mobile app, which now provides a more secure and efficient platform for connecting students in need with leftover food.
Computer Science and Business students Connor Greene, Dave Jha, and Joshua Yang were behind the initial messaging solution. The trio then approached Lehigh Sustainability Officer Katharine Targett Gross in early 2020 with the idea for the mobile app and an accompanying web interface that would link hungry students with locations where they pick up unused food from Lehigh-catered campus events.
“Every day departments, offices and clubs hold events and meetings across campus with Lehigh-catered food,” says Targett Gross. “Often, when these events and meetings end, there is leftover food that gets thrown away. Our goal is to end this wasteful cycle at Lehigh.”
Over the past two years, the Hungry Hawks team met regularly to plot out the future of the service. The current Hungry Hawks mobile app and web interface now enables faculty, staff and students to post leftover food from Lehigh-catered events and meetings and for hungry students to view active events.
When students search for leftover food, all active food events will appear. Hungry Hawks also includes a campus map, walking directions and filters to make it easier for students to find leftover food on campus.
“We can estimate that over 1,000 Lehigh students are very food insecure,” says Audrey McSain, Lehigh sustainability program manager. “Though this platform is available for our entire Lehigh community to use, Hungry Hawks could be an excellent resource for our food-insecure students that does not single them out."
The Hungry Hawks app is available for free download on the Apple Store and Google Play Store, and students must sign in with their Lehigh credentials. The web interface version is also available.