Moline student wins Congressional App Award for project to connect restaurants & food banks to combat food waste

A Moline High School junior won the 2023 Congressional App Award for his project that will make it easier for restaurants to give excess food to organizations like food banks that need it.

Akhil Kumar created an app called Food Flow and received the award from Congressman Eric Sorensen. Kumar says the app connects restaurants and food banks. As it turns out, lunch with friends would give inspiration for a community-changing app.

Akhil Kumar (OurQuadCities.com)
Akhil Kumar (OurQuadCities.com)

“I was having a casual lunch at Hungry Hobo with my friend,” Kumar said. “When I was ordering food, I asked the staff why the bread was so cheap. The staff said most of it was discarded at the end of the day. This really made a realization that food wastage is a big problem in our community, and I felt that if it’s not addressed now, then when will it be addressed.”

The app targets businesses that tend to throw extra food away. “My app aims to link food businesses with extra food and non profits like food banks and homeless shelters,” Kumar said. “It’s a platform where they can communicate and where food can be exchanged and put to greater use to ensure access to healthy meals within our community.”

Congressman Eric Sorensen was the judge for the app challenge award. He says Walmart used to be the largest distributor of excess food, but he says Walmart categorized it as waste. “The company’s waste, wasn’t waste at all,” Sorensen said. “It was actually going to the food bank. Now that there is less food coming from Walmart to the Riverbend Food Bank, Akhil’s app solves that problem.”

Later in April, Kumar says he will travel to Washington D.C. to connect with other coders. “I’ll attend the house of code,” Kumar said. “I’ll meet with other winners from the nation and really connect with them and share ideas regarding the different apps we made to win the competition.”

Sorensen is focused on the future of the app and how it can help people all across the country. “What is the potential of where we go, with a specific app that connects food to the mouths of the people that need them,” Sorensen said. “That doesn’t exist yet. We’re not talking about Grub Hub here. We’re talking about a connection to people who are really in need.”

Kumar says he’s happy to have the opportunity. “Through this award, I’m able to actually create the impact that I’ve always aspired to create.”

Kumar says the app should be fully functional with a web version of the app in about a year.

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