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'Dibbs' app aims to save food, do good

App will allow agencies like soup kitchens and shelters to call 'dibbs' on leftover food posted by grocery stores. (WCCU)

When the doors close at Common Ground Food Co-op in Urbana, there’s still work to be done.

"We really try and make sure we have zero food waste,” Outreach Coordinator at Common Ground Sarah Buckman said.

At the end of the night, employees round up food items that are deemed not sellable-- for reasons ranging from ripped packaging, a looming expiration date, or just a bruised banana.

Next, comes pick up.

“A lot of volunteers with local organizations that work to feed hungry people come and pick up the food, transport it to their kitchen and make a meal from it either that night or the next day,” Buckman said.

Common Ground’s mission is rather uncommon, as most grocery stores dump excess food.

University of Illinois students Melissa Jin and Kathleen Hu set out to change that.

“There’s a huge need and a huge disconnect between hunger and food waste,” Jin said.

To make this connection, Jin and Hu are developing an app called ‘Dibbs.’

“At the end of the day grocery stores can upload their food to the app, and on the other side agencies can view our dashboard with all of that food and call dibs on it,” Jin said.

Common Ground is piloting the Dibbs app. The app looks to make the process of coordinating the exchange between the store and agencies more efficient.

Common Ground and the Dibbs team hope this app will promote the reduction of food waste across Champaign-Urbana.

"This issue hits so close to home because nobody wants to see the people in their community go hungry,” Jin said. “And no one wants to see food wasted either.”

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