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Challenge Competition Brings Together Designers, Coders and Government for Innovation

Posted by Janna Raudenbush, Public Affairs Specialist, Food and Nutrition Service in Food and Nutrition
Apr 12, 2016
Winning submissions of the E.A.T. School Lunch U.X. Challenge featured on contest website
Winning submissions of the E.A.T. School Lunch U.X. Challenge featured on contest website.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) teamed up with techies across the nation to strengthen the integrity and improve the user experience of the National School Lunch Program application.  On December 1, 2015, we launched a public “hackathon” contest – the E.A.T. (Electronic Application Transformation) School Lunch U.X. Challenge – to tap into this country’s greatest resource: its people.

Designers and coders have been working furiously to develop a forward-thinking, web-based application for the school meal programs that would revolutionize the way households apply for free and reduced price meals.  Nearly 50 individuals, teams and organizations submitted electronic application prototypes, and a panel of five expert judges took to the task of selecting the winners.

Drumroll please…..

First Prize: LunchLine by Lauren MacGuidwin, Cody Landstrom, Keaton Bedell and Jessica Zhang.  This team also won awards for Best Creative Design Aesthetic and Best Behavioral Design Elements.

Second Prize: Reduced Lunch Form by Gavy Aggarwal and Abirami Kurinchi-Vendhan, who were also selected for the Student Award.

Third Prize: Eat School Lunch Submission by Emily McCammon and Justin McCammon.

Honorable Mentions:

Large organizations (with at least 50 employees) could compete for a non-cash honor, the Large Organization Recognition Award, which was awarded to Gravity Tank’s Project Oliver.  And the public also got to weigh in, casting votes online for their favorite submissions to determine the Popular Choice Award, which was presented to Team Lunchbox – School Lunch Mobile-Responsive Web App by Cara Abel, Miriam Donath, Alexander Tran, Andy Hollenhorst, Eric Famiglietti and Giselle Sperber.   Under the America COMPETES Act, which aims “to invest in innovation through research and development,” a total of $50,000 in prizes was split among the eligible winners.

Across the board, we were blown away by the hard work and creativity of participants of the E.A.T. School Lunch UX Challenge.  FNS is committed to exploring all possible approaches to enhancing our programs and maximizing benefits for all participants.  Sometimes that comes in the form of a policy change or developing educational materials.  But other times we have to think outside the box.

This contest is an example of the forward progress we can make when government and citizens come together to innovate.  We’ll be taking the best of the best ideas we received through the competition to inspire a new electronic prototype application that school districts can adopt or adapt to their own needs, streamlining processes to cut costs and minimize errors.  The end product will reduce burden for parents and schools, ensure students have access to the benefits they need and safeguard the programs that serve millions of children across our country each and every day.

Congratulations to all the winners and thank you to everyone that participated in this challenge!

Category/Topic: Food and Nutrition