Campus, News

Student app wins seed grant to provide sustainable, discounted dining

Boston University student Giovanni DiMaggio was awarded a Community Impact Challenge grant for his proposal to create an app that would decrease food waste on campus, enabling BU Dining Services to sell leftover food to students at a reduced price. AMANDA SCHNEIDER/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

In an effort to increase food accessibility and decrease food waste on Boston University’s campus, Giovanni DiMaggio is developing an app that would offer discounted meal options to students.

DiMaggio, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, won a $500 seed grant for his app proposal — Food For Every Terrier — and presented his idea at BU’s Community Impact Challenge Finalist Showcase on Friday.

The challenge, which started Oct. 8, asked students to address a problem in either the BU or local community.

DiMaggio’s app aims to work with BU Dining Services to allow students to buy reduced-price food that would otherwise be thrown out at the end of the night.

DiMaggio said he was inspired by the app Food for All, which he currently uses for Boston-area restaurants.

Food for All allows restaurants to sell leftover food at heavily discounted prices, and customers pick up their food before the restaurant closes, according to the company’s website.

DiMaggio created his app idea because BU’s dining plans are “ridiculous.” He cited the dining halls’ lack of food quality and excessive cost this semester.

“My first goal is to save a lot of food waste that’s going to end up being thrown out,” DiMaggio said. “And a second goal is just saving students some money right now.”

DiMaggio said on-campus restaurants should consider extending service by 30 minutes to an hour each night to sell discounted food, which he said could also help bring business to restaurants that are financially struggling due to the pandemic.

Blake Sims St. Louis, program director for Social Innovation at [email protected], said she was the staff member behind the implementation and coordination of the community challenge. Sims St. Louis said evaluators scored Giovanni’s response well.

“One of the evaluators said, ‘I really love this idea and have always wondered what happens to leftover food at BU. I especially hate the waste created from events,’” Sims St. Louis said.

Nicolas Munarriz, a sophomore in CAS, said he would prefer more after-hours meal options around campus, which DiMaggio’s app would offer.

“I get really sick of Late Nite [Café], eating the same wrap over and over again,” Munarriz said, “Just having the additional options, especially at a discount, would be really great for me and for a lot of other people.”

DiMaggio said he would be open to working with BU Dining Services, BU Sustainability and the Environmental Student Organization next semester. He said ESO has been “really receptive” to the idea.

Although he is still determining how he will use the seed grant, DiMaggio said he is considering putting it toward sustainable packaging for the meals.

Lisa Tornatore, director of BU Sustainability, said DiMaggio’s plan for sustainable packaging is “a great idea,” and while she has not personally spoken to DiMaggio, she hopes he reaches out.

“BU Sustainability is always supportive of innovative student ideas that are helping us reduce food waste and get food into the hands of people that need it,” Tornatore said.

Sofia Sherman, a freshman in CAS, found DiMaggio’s proposal to be “very advantageous for everyone,” because businesses will no longer have to throw away food and students could purchase meals for cheaper.

“I think students will definitely use this if this becomes an option,” Sherman said. “It would be very popular if it’s well planned and designed.”

DiMaggio said while he is not an app developer, he would like to be involved in the creative aspects of constructing the app, which includes contributing to web design, advertising and graphics — all of which he has experience with.

DiMaggio is currently working on connecting with Dining Services to begin collaboration on the app.

“I think that if we implemented something like this,” DiMaggio said, “we’ll solve a lot of problems for everyone.”

2 Comments

  1. Thanks for the article! We’re really excited to get this app started next semester! If you’d like to help us out, come to Environmental Student Org meetings on Zoom! I’m going to have a small coalition of students who want to get things rolling with me. Check out @bu.eso on Instagram to learn more!

  2. Love this!