hackGC 2023 Winning Team Brings Innovation to Food Waste

May 10, 2023

Dayana Garcia

In April, four student teams formed to be well dispersed in ability. The teams worked to create technology solutions to the social justice issue for this year’s hackGC weekend competition: climate change. They were guided by four mentors: Sanjay Khanna ’85, Gina Donovan ’04, Barb Baker, and Amy Blanchard. After a morning full of wise words, they spent the rest of Saturday formatting their ideas and preparing for their pitches.

On Sunday, teams presented their ideas to our three judges: Leslie Bleichner ’07, Chris Bair ’96, and Monica Chavez-Silva. Each group was given 15 minutes to present their pitch and answer judge questions.

The winning team, Ctrl-Alt-Elite, consisted of four Grinnellians, some of whom had not met one another before the weekend began. Their social innovation, Budget Bite — the Broccoli App, would allow users to scan receipts in order to keep track of what is in their fridge. The app would notify users when food is expiring soon, provide recipes using the ingredients they have, and make suggestions for future purchase amounts to avoid overbuying and food waste. Team members Gabriela Roznawska ’26, Avaash Bhattarai ’26, Quynh Dao ’25, and Tim Yu ’26 won first place, each earning a $500 prize.

The weekend was full of brilliant ideas and wonderful teamwork. Yu reflects on the experience, saying, “When we presented I felt very confident, even though my group only spent the last hour preparing. Leaving the event I felt more confident in my public speaking skills.” His experience was shared by many who had never been put in such a time constraint for a new project, but they all took it in stride.

Team Climateers were awarded second place and $300 each for their Sustainify app pitch. Team members are Ananya Manchanda ’26, Muhammad Khalid ’26, Julian Kim ’26, Tessa Siminou ’26, and Aysha Simmonds ’23. The judges declared a tie for third place: Kernal5 team members Carter English ’24, Madel Sibal ’26, Raj Jhanwar ’25, Trung Le ’25, and Aruan Shaukenov ’25 pitched their Zero Foodprint app for personalized planning of dining hall meals, and BlueBear team members Natalia Ramirez Jimenez ’25, Mariela Lopez Gonzalez ’25, Yuxin Peng ’25, Devanshu Pandey ’26, and Zihao Yu ’24 pitched their Grinndar calendar enhancement app for reducing paper waste associated with campus event advertising. Third place earned team members $150 each.

hackGC is sponsored by the Wilson Center for Innovation and Leadership. The Wilson Center encourages not only the winning students but all Grinnell College students to use the Wilson Center Incubator to further support their ideas and innovations. We look forward to next year’s hackGC with a possible rebranding and further collaboration with the Stew Makerspace to bring student ideas to life.

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