Posted on Monday, November 10th, 2014

Written by Dan Gillis

Food Waste Hackathon winners
Food Waste Hackathon winners: Team Cozy (Viktoria Cermanova, Nicolas Durish, Gabriel Pothier-Maudsley, and Michael Wojitas) with Associate Professor Mike von Massow.

This weekend teams of students from across campus came together to take on the challenge of student food waste as part of Feeding Nine Billion's first ever Food Waste Hackathon.

Food waste is a significant social, environmental, and economic issue in Canada and around the world. While upwards of 40% of all food produced ends up in the garbage, over 840 thousand Canadians rely on the support of food banks and food pantries to make ends meet every month. Environmentally, much of our food waste results in the release of methane - a green house gas that has a greater effect on climate change than carbon dioxide. And if that's not enough, it costs every Canadian household an average of $28 a week (or almost $1500 a year) - equivalent to leaving one bag for every six purchased at the curb to be collected on garbage day.

To address this issue, multidisciplinary student teams spent 24 hours in the Science Complex Atrium to develop solutions to quantify, reduce, or eliminate student food waste on campus. Top prize ($1000) was awarded to Team Cozy (Viktoria Cermanova, Nicolas Durish, Michael Wojitas, and Gabriel Pothier-Maudsley) for developing Smartbin - a composting system that tracks food waste and converts it to dollars lost. Runner up prizes ($300) were awarded to teams Trash Heroes (Ben Douek, and Adrian D'Allessandro), and Food Fighters (Lauren Jans, Sarah Shepherd, Angela Pang, and Aftab Ahmad) for their projects FoodFinder and MagicBin, respectively. Trash Heroes also walked away with the Best Use of Technology award.

Sponsorship and prizes were provided by The McConnell and Trudeau Foundations, as well as local businesses. All projects will be featured on the Feeding Nine Billion website. The event was a joint effort between students, staff, and faculty of the Department of Geography (Dr. Evan Fraser, Dr. Kate Parizeau), the Food Institute (Maggie McCormick), the SOCIS (Ryan Wilson-Perkin, Julian Horvat, Alex Pennells), and the School of Computer Science (Dr. Dan Gillis).

The Food Waste Hackathon represents the first of at least three hackathons focusing on the issue of food waste and food insecurity that will be held at Guelph over the next 3 years. Stay tuned for more information. Congrats to all of the winners, and thank you to all of the students who came out for #FoodHack14.

You can also read about the event in the Guelph Mercury.

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