Being stuck at home for the past week in California has definitely been an interesting experience. Though there are a plethora of ways the coronavirus has impacted our lives and a host of new problems that beg urgent solutions, we didn’t want to focus on the virus itself or the closely related healthcare field for our submission, opting to tackle a problem that every single one of us is facing.
While staying at our aunt’s place, we noticed her avoiding doing groceries due to fear of the risk that simple task now holds. The stores are crowded, people are prone to passing the virus easily to others, and shelves are pretty sparse at the moment anyway. We noticed that picking up prescriptions or medicine while you’re ill also puts you in a dangerous position. We’re grateful, inspired by, and feel sorry for the employees who must continue working to keep our communities alive by restocking the shelves, selling us food/medicine, and interacting with thousands of customers per day.
Food & Stuff is an app that simplifies the essential task of doing groceries and going to the pharmacy – protecting both store employees and consumers in a way that facilitates efficient collaboration, despite reducing face-to-face interaction.
What it does
Users are able to create shopping lists in the app like they normally would (e.g. you list out: bread, milk, bananas). Based on previous purchases, Food & Stuff will fill up a shopping cart at your store of choice in your location with the 2% Horizon Milk, focaccia, and organic bananas you intended to buy. You can add additional items and change how many of each thing you’d like in your shopping cart before proceeding to order, as well as create and share multiple lists (so you can shop for your neighbor too!). You then choose a time window to pick up your food and are given a number to display in your dashboard upon arrival. When you get to the store, you simply open your trunk and the store employee will bring the groceries to you. You’ll be able to pay for your purchase right from the driver’s seat. The same process through this app would apply to your pharmacy.
On the opposing side, the stores involved would have a system to track and fill incoming orders. An alert system would notify both parties when orders have been received, when they’ve been completed, when drivers have left their homes, when drivers have arrived, etc.
How we built it
We conducted a couple informal interviews to solidify our idea and looked at a few grocery shopping apps on the App Store to start, and then we designed our own screens from scratch in Adobe XD. After we finished planning out the app and making the designs, we used React Native to build it. We created our own custom components so that we could have a unique user interface. Throughout the development process, we relied on Expo to create builds of the app so that we could periodically test out the different features.
Challenges we ran into
Implementing the custom user interface in React Native posed to be a bigger challenge than initially expected. Each widget on the screen required its own personal attention, while at the same time they had to work together to form an immersive and smooth experience.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We were quite proud of being able to implement a feature in which users could type their own grocery or pharmacy shopping list and the app would be able to categorize the list and determine which store to direct the user to. Designing a solution to this problem took time and it wasn’t a straightforward process, but ultimately it was incredibly rewarding when we had a solution that worked!
What we learned
Over the course of this hackathon, we gained hands-on experience with the full process of developing an app. From designing layouts to desperately trying to turn bugs into features, we learned a lot about the technical skills needed to create an app. In addition to this, we had to learn a lot about time management and working under pressure as we raced to get each aspect of our application finished in time.
What's next for Food & Stuff
It would be really cool to see a partnership between Food & Stuff and a few cities, or the companies whose products are accessible through the app – especially connecting with smaller, family owned businesses and ethnic food stores whose sales may be down right now. Adding a feature where people can find free meals would be nice too, with maps to things like elementary schools where kids can pick up breakfast and lunch, and shelters that are serving food.