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Baldwin Wallace University students tackle campus hunger, creates app to help reduce waste and food insecurity

Posted at 7:32 AM, Feb 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-08 07:33:06-05

BEREA, Ohio — Baldwin Wallace University students are taking on food insecurity by creating an exclusive campus app to help their peers find their next meal.

The university has been looking into the widespread problem for a while. We’re told a study conducted found 28% of its students don’t know where their next meal is coming from. In 2016, Hunger on Campus released a study showing 22% out of 3,800 students across 34 community colleges and four-year institutions reported “very low levels of food security that qualify them as hungry."

There’s students that need that food or may need that food and may not tell anyone,” said Terrell McDowell, a Baldwin Wallace student.

McDowell and other students say it’s no secret a lot of food on campus goes to waste. We’re told at least 10% of it ends up in the trash.

“It happens all the time,” said Hastings Marek, a Baldwin Wallace University student. “It hit me really hard in class you know when I’m looking around at my fellow students.”

But McDowell and Marek, along with four others and their professors, are working to put an end to hunger with an app they created themselves through a $24,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The app is called “Campus Plate,” which McDowell said was built extremely user-friendly. The app will be centered around at least three sustainable food stops set up on campus. Marek explained the team is “working with different community groups on campus” to utilize food leftover from events and meal services.

“There’s a lot of food safety protocols that go into this, food safety training,” said Dr. Franklin Lebo, co-director of Sustainability Program at Baldwin Wallace University.

How “Campus Plate” Works

The app is still in development. However, its functionality plans and features have already been outlined in a blueprint.

When a student enters their email, they’ll get a pin to log in. Then comes a map showing a list of available food on campus, which will also show how far away the sustainable food spot is from their current location.

“It kind of tells you like how long ago it was between like the food being posted and where it’s at,” explained McDowell.

The student will select their choice of food and the app will show a pickup location. Once the food is taken, it is taken off the availability list.

“The proof of the pudding will be, do we really accomplish this mission 5 years from now? Is this something that we’re able to look back on and say this was the genesis of something great?” said Lebo.

When will “Campus Plate” be available?

The app will roll out this fall and be available exclusively campus-wide at Baldwin Wallace University. However, the goal is to expand with the help of another $100,000 EPA grant. If approved, other campus students and Cleveland residents could have access as well.