It’s not everyday that students get to showcase their talents on a big stage, but participants of the David E. Glover Youth Pitch Competition sponsored by Blue Shield of California got to do just that during this year’s AfroTech conference. One teenager walked away with the trophy for his app that is set to increase nutritional health in the Oakland, California-area.
Students who participated in the competition were tasked with creating three-minute pitch decks with six slides. Each student spent weeks working with mentors from the from the Hidden Genius Project to prepare for the event.
“Young people of color in Oakland are out here really doing it,” said Olivia Cueva, director of the David E. Glover Emerging Technology Center. “They’re building things that can greatly be a part of the fabric of design in Silicon Valley.”
Kimberley Goode, Senior Vice President of External Affairs for Blue Shield of California said, “We sponsored the youth pitch competition because we believe innovation can come from every corner of the community, including our youth. Our hope for students who participated in the competition is that they will continue coming up with ideas and building cases to bring those ideas to life, and we don’t want them to stop there.”
High school student Brandon “Pierre” Bazile won the competition for his app Meal Swap, that facilitates meal swapping and sharing food among multiple families. Traditional meal swaps require that a group get together with each member of the group having the responsibility of preparing a meal for one day of the week. The practice helps reduce food waste and helps communities save time and money. Bazile said he hopes that his app can alleviate some of the income disparities brought on by big tech in his hometown. Meal Swap sends subscribers health tips throughout the week, in an effort to encourage a well-rounded, nutritious diet.
“I want meal swapping to become a social norm that grows larger than the app, so that these healthy habits can be continued for generations,” Bazile said. “Additionally, part of the Meal Swap is to give a portion of our proceeds to those who can’t afford healthy foods as a way to cut down on hunger. “
Bazile got the idea for Meal Swap after his parents spent a hefty amount of time participating in one.
The app is looking to streamline the process of planning for a meal swap. When users sign up on the platform, they are asked to take a survey where they disclose food allergies, dietary restrictions, nutritional goals, favorite meals and more. The app then shows users other meal swappers in the area and allows them to join a group. After a user has found their tribe, they can use the in-app calendar to schedule their next meeting and meal.
“My family participated in a meal swap group for six years and we really saw the benefits that come from it,” Bazile said. “I wanted my app to be impactful to our communities and so I decided to join tech with something from my childhood.” Brandon Bazile hopes that his app will strengthen the bonds between families and communities for future generations in Oakland, California and beyond.
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