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Bronco BEAM app feeds Boise State students in need, cuts down on waste

The new smartphone app links students with leftover food from campus events.

BOISE, Idaho — A 2016 survey shows that close to half of the students at Boise State describe themselves as food insecure.

At the same time, events on campus often have leftover food that goes to waste.

Sounds like those two problems can help each other out, right?

A team of talented students has worked hundreds of hours over the last two years to develop a smartphone app to help with both of those problems.

"Pretty much universally, I tell people about this and they get excited,” Olivia Thomas, one of the students behind the project, said.

The project is called Bronco BEAM.

“Beacon Environment Approximation Mapping," project developer Tyler Chapman explained. "We are just getting started."

The app was developed by a team of students working in the GIMM lab at Boise State. It allows students on campus to know if catered events near them will have extra food when they are over.

"Tells you what the food is, where it is, and how long it will be available," Thomas explained.

The app hasn’t been out long, but project member Issiac Torrero says they are already seeing results.

"It's been great, we've started having events, seeing people come and actually take advantage of it, and we are excited to see it grow," said Torrero.

Again, the app solves two problems on-campus - students who are food insecure now have a new option for free meals and food services now have people to give extra food, instead of throwing it away.

"I think every college student has a dream of doing something that's actually going to be impactful in the real world, instead of just like a study,  this is the perfect example of that," Chapman said.

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While the team was walking KTVB through how the app works, an alert from Bronco Beam came through.

Lasagna, salad, and rolls would soon be available from a BSU event from Saturday afternoon.

So the team walked over to the student union building where a fresh meal was waiting.

Shortly after the alert went out, students were taking advantage of the food, that otherwise would have gone to waste.

Now, the app is catching on - fast.

"We went from 200 beta testers to about 600 or 700 users in about two days," Chapman said.

The team says the app has opened their eyes to new possibilities.

"See that what we are making can actually at least make a small dent in that problem, if nothing else," Torrero said.

The Bronco BEAM app is out now, and available for free in the App Store, and the Google Play Store.

The team says using their BEAM technology, they hope to add new features to the app soon.

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