According to the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, food waste is one of the biggest waste streams in Singapore, and the amount generated has grown by around 30% over the last 10 years.
In 2018 alone, 763 million kilograms – the weight of over 54,000 double decker buses – of food waste was generated.
Beyond the usual suspects like food waste at eateries and unsold produce at supermarkets, catered buffets are also a source of food waste.
4 Singaporean friends were reminded of this sobering fact when they participated in the SG100 Nation-Hack-A-Thon in July last year.
Beyond realising that they needed to do something about it, they also had the epiphany that they could actually do something to help alleviate the problem.
With that mission in mind, the quartet, made up of Tengku Hafidz (27), a Tech Associate at GovTech, Mohammad Hazmie Bin Ja’afar (26) at PwC, Musa Bin Rahamat (26), a Product Engineer at Circles.Life, and Ahmad Syafiq Bin Ruhazat (24), a final year Computer Science undergraduate at NUS, came up with the Makan Rescue app, which alerts users to the nearest buffet that has leftovers.
They started development of the app in November last year, juggling school and work as they built it.
“We were able to manage this by following an Agile workflow and having weekly sprints,” shared team member Syafiq in an interview with Vulcan Post.
“Even if did not have time to meet up, we would do weekly stand-ups online.”
They officially launched the app in mid-February this year to tertiary institutions, a conscious decision they made.
“We knew it was important to have a strong community in order for the app to work well,” he recalled.
“Thus, instead of launching it nation-wide, we focused on tertiary institutions that already had an inherent sharing mentality.”
To get word out of the app, they went on social media and even set up booths at events held by the environmental community in NUS, NTU, and SMU.
Fuelled By Goodwill
Some of the members of the Makan Rescue team were also part of the team who built Terawhere, a ride-sharing app for users to carpool to the mosque during Ramadan period.
Just like Terawhere, which is fuelled by the goodwill of drivers and is completely free to use, listings on Makan Rescue are also based on voluntarily posts from users.
The Makan Rescue team have no plans (at the moment) to monetise the app either.
“We believe that Makan Rescue should remain as a side project for us as a form of social good.”
276 Listings To Date
Syafiq reveals that they have had 276 listings to date, and that the app is still “primarily being used” within NUS, NTU, and SMU.
“In the near future, we are going to open it up to other campuses, including other universities, polytechnics and ITE campuses,” he shared.
Public roll-out is definitely in the works, but the team wants to ensure that they iron out any kinks before launching the app to an even larger user base.
“Aside from the campus options listed in the app, we have also added an ‘others’ option where users can share surplus food from any location.”
He beamed: “With the existence of this option, we have seen some users sharing surplus food from their homes!”
However, Syafiq reiterated the importance that users be careful in distinguishing food that is still good to eat before consuming them.
“Makan Rescue is just a sharing platform, and as such will not be liable for any unwanted incidents.”
- Check out Makan Rescue, and download the app here.