It is shocking that 1 in 4 children are at risk for experiencing hunger in NYC, a city of wealth and opportunity. These families are not able to afford even subsidized school lunches and are subject to the stigma related to poverty, which causes students to be humiliated for not being able to afford their lunches. Food for Thought is our way of helping students get food and circumvent the societal stigma related to poverty. It has the potential to have a large impact on our community because it will help ensure no child will go hungry and will decrease the likelihood of students being shamed for not being able to afford meals.

Food For Thought is a first-of-its-kind platform that connects administrators and parents to provide financial support for parents who can not afford their child’s school lunch. The platform allows parent to pay for their child’s lunch, and receive donations from other parents if they opt to and qualify for it. Parents who need financial support after receiving partially subsidized lunches can chose to receive donations from other parents who “Pay it Forward”. When a parent donates, the donation is split among parents who need additional financial assistance to ensure their child can eat lunch.

The platform is in a prototype stage, which we designed in Bubble, a tool for developing web apps. The web app integrates with Braintree Payments, an payment service for accepting, processing, and splitting payments, to handle transactions to schools and donations between parents.

 

What inspired me/us? *

We were inspired to create Food for Thought when we realized that 13 million children lived in food-insecure households in 2015. When you initially look around New York City, you see restaurants, diners, and pubs. We, like many other New Yorkers, overlooked the food deserts and the hungry children. In the face of poverty and discrimination, we realize that there is strength in numbers. It is human nature to want to help others when they can, and we know that many people, ourselves included, are willing to and wanting to give, but are often times, discouraged by inconvenience and lack of visible results. We wanted to create something that could use the strength from the numbers in our communities to help those in need. Every meal that they have donated will add up to relieve the stress of many students and families.
After thorough research about food insecurity in America, our passion and drive for creating this app has only flourished. From stories of children being bullied for their lack of lunch, to the numbers of food insecure households, we were exposed to many statistics and facts about food insecurity which we could barely believe. It astounded and horrified us that in one of the wealthiest and most advanced countries in the world there were still communities that were going hungry. We found that students and their parents were being publicly humiliated for not being able to pay for their lunches. As punishment for not being able to afford lunch students are having their food confiscated and thrown away in front of them, are being stamped with messages regarding the balance of their lunch account, and may be forced to clean cafeteria tables in order to eat their meal. We empathize with our fellow students and created Food for Thought.Though we alone can not fix these problems, we are more determined than ever to lessen the numbers and brighten the stories. We believe that the most effective way to ease the lives of many is by using the kindness of our communities and the strength of our numbers.