USDA Announces Winners of Innovation Challenge Aimed at Improving Access to School Meals

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Individuals, Teams, & Organizations Honored for Modernized, User-Focused Applications

WASHINGTON, March 31, 2016 – Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) named 10 winners of its E.A.T. (Electronic Application Transformation) School Lunch U.X. Challenge, a public “hackathon” challenging individuals and organizations to revolutionize the way households apply for free and reduced price school meals.

“The hard work and creativity displayed by the participants of the E.A.T. School Lunch U.X. Challenge is inspiring,” said Kevin Concannon, USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services.  “USDA embraces innovation and is committed to exploring all possible approaches to enhancing its programs and maximizing benefits for all participants. By hosting a public challenge, we can tap into this country’s greatest resource: its people.”

The goal of the challenge was to develop a forward-thinking, web-based application for the school meals programs – including both the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) – that would help streamline the process for parents and schools and promote accurate, complete responses.  USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), the federal agency responsible for administering the school meals programs, offers a prototype paper application on its website, and thousands of school districts have adopted or modified that application for their own use.  Many districts also offer online applications; however, FNS does not currently have an electronic prototype for them to use as a model.

Millions of paper applications for school meal benefits are filed every year, and nearly 10 million low income children were approved to receive benefits in school year 2014-15 through this form of application.  In total, approximately 100,000 schools and institutions across the nation serve more than five billion meals through the NSLP and more than two billion through the SBP to America’s children in 2015.

From the diverse pool of designers and coders who submitted electronic application prototypes, a panel of five expert judges selected the following awardees:

First Prize: LunchLine by Lauren MacGuidwin, Cody Landstrom, Keaton Bedell, and Jessica Zhang
Second Prize: Reduced Lunch Form by Gavy Aggarwal and Abirami Kurinchi-Vendhan
Third Prize: Eat School Lunch Submission by Emily McCammon and Justin McCammon

Honorable Mentions:

Project Almuerzo by Taylor Palmer
— eatChallenge by Kyle Warneck and Anne Paprocki
— E.A.T School Lunch UX Challenge by Jon Tuttle
— Lunchbox by William Holley
— E.A.T. School Lunch UX by Abijeet Kaulgud

Student Award: Reduced Lunch Form (see above)
Best Creative Design Aesthetic: LunchLine (see above)
Best Technical Implementation: eatChallenge (see above)
Best Behavioral Design Elements: LunchLine (see above)

The public also cast votes online for their favorite submissions to determine the Popular Choice Award, which was presented to Team Lunchbox – School Lunch Mobile-Responsive Web App by Cara Abel, Miriam Donath, Alexander Tran, Andy Hollenhorst, Eric Famiglietti, and Giselle Sperber.  A total of $50,000 in cash prizes was distributed among the eligible awardees.  Judges also considered submissions from large organizations for a non-cash honor, awarding the Large Organization Recognition Award to Gravity Tank’s Project Oliver.

The electronic applications developed through this competition will inform FNS as they work to create a prototype that can be shared with all school districts, incorporating the most useful ideas and insights from across the various submissions. The resulting application prototype will improve the user experience of millions of applicants and enhance the programs responsible for ensuring all American children have access to healthy school meals.

USDA hosted this prize challenge under the America COMPETES Act, which encourages government agencies to use prize competitions to spur innovation, solve tough problems, and advance their core missions.  According to, a platform created to house these competitions, between September 2010 and October 2015, more than 80 federal agencies ran 455+ challenge and prize competitions.  FNS launched the E.A.T. School Lunch UX Challenge on Dec. 1, 2015, and submissions were accepted through March 1, 2016.

The school meals programs – NSLP and SBP – are just two of the 15 nutrition assistance programs administered by FNS.  Others include, but are not limited to, the Child and Adult Care Food Program; the Summer Food Service Program; the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.  Together these programs make up the federal nutrition safety net.

Over the past seven years, USDA has enhanced federal nutrition programs, providing a critical safety net for millions of American children and families. By expanding access to nutritious foods and increasing awareness about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, USDA programs have made a real difference in the lives of many, promising a brighter, healthier future for our nation. Today concludes National Nutrition Month. Throughout the month, USDA has highlighted results of its efforts to improve nutrition and reduce food insecurity at


USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Stop 9410, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877-8339 (TDD)or (866) 377-8642 (English federal-relay) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish federal-relay).


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