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Calgary teens develop app that gets leftover food to those in need

A new food app is launching in Calgary, but it’s not going to get food delivered to your door. In fact, it will help you make the delivery yourself.

The Leftovers Foundation, a Calgary charity that helps get leftover and unwanted food to people in need, is officially launching the app on April 1.

Founder Lourdes Juan said the new app is designed for current and future volunteers to make things easier for them, but it will also provide important data back to the charity.

“Right now, if you are a volunteer or would like to be a volunteer, you can use the app instead of signing onto the online platform, which is a little bit frustrating,” said Juan.

She said volunteers create an account on the app and then sign up for the shift they can be available. Aside from assigning pickup and drop-off locations, they’ll also be able to use the app along the way to track food safety information.

“It’ll track your kilometers,” she said. “You can pickup the food and input the weight and temperature. We equip our volunteers with scales and thermometers.”

Volunteers who sign up are greeted with this video, which will help introduce them to the app.

The idea for the app came from a quartet of high school students. Leanne Bui was one of the original four who developed in the app.

“It was an entrepreneurial program that allowed us to pitch and make an app in the span of three months,” she said.

With the help of business and technical mentors, Bui and three other students won their competition. Other teams in the past had not officially launched their apps after the competition, but Bui said they wanted to see it through.

“Since we partnered with Leftovers, we felt we had a purpose to finish the app for the people of Calgary,” said Bui.

The Leftovers App team, from left, Elena Dumitrascu, Brad Rougeau, Christine Cao, Leanne Bui, Donnattella Salvador, Amanda Baxter, Veyra Pascual, Traneice Aranda, Victor Truong, Lourdes Juan

Leftovers used the crowdfunding website Indiegogo to raise money, which was used to hire professional developers. They took the teens’ original app and built on it, adding a sleeker user interface and working out any small bugs.

Bui stayed on with the team, helping with refining the app, but also volunteering with Leftovers, and working as an intern.

“I help with grant writing, but I mostly do last minute pickups for leftovers,” she said. “On Fridays, when nobody picks up, I get everything around the city.”

Lourdes said the volunteers’ job gets easier with the app, but The Leftovers Foundation also gets important data.

“On the back end we can actually now track all of this data – so how much food we’re donating in Calgary – all that sort of stuff.”

Juan said the app will even allow them to track the types of food that are being donated. Eventually they’ll be able to drill down into how many pastries and sandwiches were donated within a certain time frame.

Bui feels the official launch of the app is a big milestone for the team.

“We wouldn’t have been able ot make it this far without the money we got from crowdfunding,” she said. “Most of the people who backed us were from Calgary.”

The app is now available in the Google Play store or the Apple App store.