Hungry Hawks Logo

Hungry Hawks, a new mobile app and web interface, will provide a more secure and efficient platform for reducing food waste and food insecurity on the Lehigh campus.

Hungry Hawks App and Web Interface Take Flight

The new platform helps address food waste and food insecurity on Lehigh's campus.

Hungry Hawks, a new mobile app and web interface that aims to reduce food waste and food insecurity on the Lehigh campus, has officially taken flight.

Though members of the Lehigh community have previously used group text messaging to informally spread the word about free leftover food from campus events, the new mobile app will provide a more secure and efficient platform for distributing the information.

Computer Science and Business students Connor Greene ’22, Dave Jha ’22 and Joshua Yang ’22, recognizing problems with the informal group text messaging system, first approached Sustainability Officer Katharine Targett Gross in early 2020 with the idea for the mobile app and web interface that will let hungry students and others in the Lehigh campus community know where to pick up leftover food from Lehigh-catered campus events.

Connor Greene

Connor Greene ’22

“Every day departments, offices and clubs hold events and meetings across campus with Lehigh-catered food,” Targett Gross said. “Often, when these events and meetings end, there is leftover food that gets thrown away. Our goal is to end this wasteful cycle at Lehigh.”

Yang, who hosts events for the Korean Student Association, said he found, as most clubs do, that it’s common to have food left over when meetings and events end. “We thought it was a necessity to address this daily concern ourselves, hoping it would create a greater impact for everyone in the future,” said Yang.

“This project is a great example of how a group of students approached the Office of Sustainability with an idea and executed on that idea under our guidance and mentorship by using the campus as a living laboratory,” said Targett Gross. “Through this, they were able to help reduce two key challenges–food waste and food insecurity.”

The core Hungry Hawks team consists of CSB students Greene, Jha and Yang, as well as Targett Gross and Audrey McSain from the Office of Sustainability, Ashley Ryan from Library & Technology Services, and Claudine Sidney from Lehigh Catering.

Dave Jha

Dave Jha ’22

Over the past two years, the Hungry Hawks team met regularly to brainstorm, troubleshoot roadblocks, and determine the path forward. The team engaged with additional offices and departments such as Lehigh Catering, Risk Management, Office of General Counsel and Diversity, Inclusion and Equity, earning critical support and creating a secure and inclusive platform for the Lehigh community to use. The resulting Hungry Hawks mobile app and web interface allows faculty, staff and students to post leftover food from Lehigh-catered events and meetings and lets students and others looking for food to view active events.

“In developing the app and website, security and usability were our two main concerns,” said Greene. “We want to ensure that the platform is fully accessible by the Lehigh community.”

Ryan said, "It was a great experience advising the student developers responsible for Hungry Hawks on matters of web accessibility and mobile app development. I appreciate the care they took in creating the website and app in a way that makes them friendly to use for a broad audience."

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, about 31% of food is wasted at the retail and consumer level in the United States. Meanwhile, food insecurity, the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food, is prevalent on college and university campuses across the nation. It is estimated that roughly half of all college students struggle with food insecurity and roughly 20% of students face very low food security. The Hungry Hawks mobile app and web interface help address both of these critical issues on Lehigh’s campus.

Joshua Yang

Joshua Yang ’22

“We can estimate that over 1,000 Lehigh students are very food insecure,” said McSain, the sustainability program manager. “When you also consider that Bethlehem, particularly Southside Bethlehem, is a food desert, one can see how this issue is exacerbated. Though this platform is available for our entire Lehigh community to use, Hungry Hawks could be an excellent resource for our food-insecure students that does not single them out. ”

How can you help to reduce campus waste?

Download the mobile app from the Apple Store or Google Play Store and sign in with your Lehigh credentials. There is also a web interface option if you do not want to download the mobile app or do not have a smartphone. From there, simply post leftover food. Posts should feature leftover food from Lehigh-catered events. Alternatively, if searching for leftover food, you can select “find leftover food” and all active leftover food events will appear. Hungry Hawks has features that include a campus map, walking directions and filters to make it easier for students to search for leftover food on campus.

“Hungry Hawks has shown me the value in creating technology solutions to ensure that real-world problems are being addressed one small step at a time,” Jha said. This is something that I hope to implement for the rest of my professional career.”

For more information on Hungry Hawks, visit the Hungry Hawks website or contact sustainability@lehigh.edu.

Story by Audrey McSain

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