Free food near you: Digital Breakthrough participants’ services will help with food distribution

The Digital Breakthrough hackathon, organized by the “Russia - Country of Opportunities” NGO and The Russian Association for Electronic Communications (RAEC), gave a new impetus to the development of food sharing in the country. Now, in order to find food that is being distributed near you, you no longer need to monitor ads on social networks. The chatbot will help: it sends notifications only about the product categories which you subscribed to and are close to your location. The new service aims to speed up the process of giving out food which has not yet expired.

The food sharing movement is becoming more and more popular in Russia. The idea is to give away leftover food that is at risk of spoiling in your home to those who need it. By giving away food before its expiration date, you reduce food waste and help those who are forced to save on food.

Usually, internet users “share” food on social networks - they post photos and descriptions in groups dedicated to food sharing. However, it is not easy to find the food you need in such groups. After all, it is not possible to filter through results, either by the type of food or by its location, you have to sort the ads manually which takes time.

To solve this problem and increase the speed of food distribution, TIARCENTER, which, together with RAEC, deals with the development of food sharing in Russia, in 2020, submitted to the Digital Breakthrough online hackathon a case on the development of an online assistant for tracking offers in food sharing communities. Dozens of teams from all over Russia tried their hand at solving the issue. The teams that took the first two places - Lux et Veritas and StepSharp - have finalized their prototypes and today everyone can use their chatbots.

New services are aimed at speeding up the food distribution process. You can go to chat bots by following the links:

Using chatbots is easy. All you have to do is select which area you are ready to pick up food from and what types of food you are interested in. After registering, the bot will start sending you links to ads that match your requests.

“The food-sharing movement has enormous potential to prevent food waste,” notes Anton Gubnitsyn, Head of the RAEC / Sharing Economy Cluster, CEO of TIARCENTER. “At the same time, the speed of distribution of the food which is being shared plays a huge role. After all, products have an expiration date so it is important that the food finds its consumer before the expiration date has passed. I hope the chatbots developed at Digital Breakthrough will take food sharing to the next level."

“Our solution uses a learning algorithm that allows us to improve the quality of searches over time. The introduction of such an algorithm potentially simplifies the placement of information about products and expands the entry threshold for customers of different ages and levels of PC use,” says Maxim Zakharenko, captain of the Lux et Veritas team.

“We have a roadmap for a larger market launch of our product. Collaboration with retail, catering and volunteers, as well as the use of AI for smarter delivery, will allow the product to become the flagship of the P2P food sharing market. The solution is easily scalable and ready for use in the Russian Federation and CIS countries” says Egor Shmonin from the StepSharp team.