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The Present: Startling Unspoken Truths

We all want it, we all need it and we all simply love it! Food. Unfortunately though there are close to 50 million Indians who don’t get enough of it. I’m talking about the 50 million people who live day-to-day not knowing where they are going to find their next meal. And even more astonishing is the fact that our country throws away more than 33 million tons of perfectly good and fresh food every year.

Now let me be blatantly honest here. I still remembering throwing away an unopened packet of Digestive Biscuits simply because I didn’t like the taste of the other pack I had. I also remember dumping a brand new bottle of fresh ghee away since my mom had figured that it wasn’t good for the weighing scale. Well, neither of us had thought of the scale while buying it from the store in the first place. Rings a bell somewhere? Many of us have been in situations like this quite often, haven’t we? Did any of us think about those who really need the food that we simply threw just because we had second thoughts? Second Thoughts. Very costly Second thoughts. Costly for those who starve to death or succumb to numerous diseases due to lack of wholesome nutritious food.

The Story: Etching out a Solution to the Problem

Salvution is a solution that we proposed to address the problem of Food Crisis and Malnutrition that is prevalent in our society today. The plan was to do that by making nutritious wholesome food available at very affordable prices to the underprivileged. Now when I say affordable prices, I’m referring to prices as low as 10%-15% of the original cost of the food product. The crux of the solution is to bring to life a concept called as ‘Salvage’ store. A Salvage store will be similar to any other store, the only difference being that it will stock food products that are nearly about to expire and price them at extremely affordable prices.

The Characters: Describing the Solution

We have envisioned Salvution to be a solution that will be hosted on the Hana Cloud Platform. Supermarkets, Kirana Stores, Food Manufacturers, Retail stores etc. will register to Salvution as Food Suppliers, while Salvage stores will register to Salvution as Food Distributors.

I will now explain how Salvution works with the help of two personas. Jacob, who owns a super market, will register to Salvution as a Food Supplier. And Samuel who is a manager at a salvage store will enroll as a Salvage Store manager. Oh, and in case you are in a hurry, you could just jump to to the video in last paragraph to help you understand the solution in a nutshell, else please keep reading on..

Now, each day an algorithm will be run to determine the list of food products that are about to expire in the next 2-3 days for each registered Food Supplier. This algorithm is scheduled to run once every day. Once the algorithm runs, each Food Supplier will be sent a notification of the list of products that are about to expire at the store.

So Jacob will received an SMS from Salvution which reads the following:

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So Jacobs logins into Salvution as a Store Manager and he is presented with the list of perishable goods in chronological order. The list details the Products, the Batch Code, the Quantity and the Original Cost of the products. Once Jacob confirms that this list of products can be sent to salvage he will be entitled to a 50% tax benefit on the total cost of the products that he has sent to Salvution. That’s definitely a worthy prize for such a noble cause.

Now the next step is to distribute the food supply. This is done by the Food Distribution algorithm that is scheduled to run once every day. Once this algorithm runs, the Food Supply for the next day will be parsed based on each Food Category, the registered salvage stores will be considered, and the Food Supply will be partitioned among these Salvage stores based on the locality, the demand and the storage capacity of the Salvage store. Once the algorithm is run a notification will be sent out to each salvage store indicating the Food Supply that will be ready for pick up the next day, via an SMS.

Now Samuel, the store manager of the Salvage Store will receive an SMS which reads the following –

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Samuel will now login to Salvution. He is now presented with the Pickup Orders generated by Salvution for the localities that he has subscribed to. Once Samuel decides to pick up the order, he will enter the name, the contact and the vehicle number of the staff who will pick up the order from the Food Supplier. The Food Supplier, Jacob will now receive an SMS which reads:

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The food products that Ramkumar picks up will now be stocked at Samuel’s store and sold at prices as low as 10-15% of the original cost of the food products making it a blessing for a large segment of our society who starve to death or succumb to diseases due to lack of nutritional food.

We as members of the society can also contribute to this noble cause by taking the current waste management systems that we have today to the next level. Today we have three categories of segregating waste – the recyclables, the organics and the waste. We propose to add an additional bucket to this system to enable us to put away food that is unopened, that is expired that we really don’t want to use. These buckets can then be aggregated at the society or the residential association level, checked for quality and then contributed to Salvution as extended Food supply. All that the association would need to do it register to Salvution as an extended Food supplier, update the quantity of and category of food available for salvage and then leave the rest to our Solution to get it distributed to the Salvage stores.

The Potential: Promising a New Brighter Future.

I truly believe that this solution has immense potential and can help fill many empty stomachs, spread many more smiles and help our society run healthier.

The Vision: Watching the dream come to life

If you spare a couple of minutes to watch this short video, you can see for yourself how Salvution can revolutionize the use of fresh food being wasted each day and bring to life a dream. A dream of living in a country where there is not a single soul who struggles for a crumb of bread.

This solution was presented at the Social App Challenge held at SAP Labs India, 5th November 2015 and won an entry to the NASSCOM Social Innovation Forum 2016

Shiney Sooraj.

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