Research

Irini Spyridakis

Spring 2020

Smart Resource Management at the Nexus of Health, the Environment, and Underserved Communities

The U.S. wastes up to 40 percent of food annually, as well as precious resources ranging from land, water, labor, and energy associated with the production and transportation of food from farm to consumers (USDA, 2019). The U.S. spends almost $218 billion a year, or 1.3 percent of GDP, on food that is never eaten yet in the US alone, 1 in 8 are food insecure. The costs do not stop at the dumpster; the U.S. spends $167.5 billion annually due to lost productivity, public education, avoidable health care costs, and subsidized programs to support families that are food insecure (Wong, 2017).

Meal Matchup, an award-winning startup created by HCDE Lecturer Irini Spyridakis and an HCDE alumna is an interactive, responsive open source website that facilitates the logistics of food donation from UW dining halls and connects dining hall managers, local shelters, and student deliverers. Meal Matchup taps into existing structures for our ground-up approach to a multi-system smart city challenge, harnessing ingenuity, collaboration, and cooperation among businesses, non-profits, governments, and citizens.

This research group addresses a sustainable smart city challenge by: (1) feeding the food insecure, (2) increasing civic engagement through opportunities for students in service-learning classes at the UW who help with food delivery logistics, (3) reducing related GHG emissions and economic costs due to food waste, (4) reducing avoidable social and healthcare costs, and (5) building food recovery software.

Students interested in joining the DRG should have excellent research, design, and communication skills, and a passion for helping underserved communities.

Students seeking to join the group will need strengths in one of two task areas defined below:

Tech Stack and Related Goals: 

  • Ability to iterate on and refine the food donation matching software we have been building while working in an interdisciplinary environment with diverse stakeholders, adding another feature requested by stakeholders.
  • Strong background in CSS, Javascript, React, and Firebase.

Research and Design

  • Follow up on research with other food delivery groups and homeless shelters to understand current operations and paint points given the impact of Covid-19 in the food recovery space.
  • Update documentation materials.
  • Examine funding approaches in the food recovery space and its associated ties to health and the environment.

If interested, please send the following to Irini Spyridakis at irinis@uw.edu:

  1. Your resume
  2. A short paragraph or two that lists your strongest skills from the above and why you're interested.

Students must register for at least 2 credits. Zoom meeting time is TBD.


Irini Spyridakis' Research Group archive