Four teenagers took a significant leap towards success when they created Robin Food, Malaysia’s first food surplus app that connects supermarkets with non-governmental and charitable organizations to help minimize food wastage.
Studies show that 1.4 billion tons of food are lost or thrown away, and nearly 795 million of the 7.3 billion people living on this planet suffered from chronic undernourishment between 2014 and 2016, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization.
To tackle this issue, the creators — Joseph Chung Ming Chong, 14, Allegra Chan, 16, Ezra Adrian Robert, 15, and Ivan Avannus, 15 — invented Robin Food to allow supermarkets and other companies, such as hotels, mini-markets and even individuals, to donate surplus food to the needy, reported Asian Correspondent.
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Launched on Dec. 15 and available for download in the Klang Valley on Android or iOS (in January 2017), generous Malaysians will be able to use Robin Food to notify food banks if there is excess food nearby and then arrange for a collection in minutes, making it easier to search for and contact reliable donors.
According to Joseph Chung from the Tunku Putra School, Kuching, Sarawak, the inspiration for the app came from the UN global food wastage statistics.
“Therefore, we came up with the idea of Robin Food to reduce the food waste by creating a mobile application to connect businesses that discard too much food, and charities that need food to give to the needy,” he told Asian Correspondent. “Our idea does not only reduce food wastage and save the environment but also addresses poverty issues by feeding the needy.”
Allegra Chan, who attends the Lodge International School, said the app came about during Sime Darby’s Young Innovators Challenge in June where participants had to use practical innovation skills and put together creative solutions to tackle the issue of poverty.
“We chose food because food is fundamental to a human being’s survival, but we (as consumers) also discard excess food, or food nearing expiry, and food considered ‘ugly’, without realizing that somewhere, someone is hungry,” she said. “There’s enough of it to go around and easy to yield to those who need it. All it needed was a bridge to close that gap between those with too much and those with too little.”
The team developed a module with a solution that would be both applicable and relevant, creating an app to cut food waste by bringing charity homes and NGOs with food sources together.
The teens went home with a trophy, $2,231 and a MacBook Air for each person. The team at Sime Darby Group Strategy and Innovation then incubated the group’s idea.
While the app is free, it would only be available to registered users. Manufacturers, retailers, food operators, hotels, cafes, and restaurants, wholesalers, distributors, importers and hypermarkets are all eligible to sign up.