Hacking Lunchtime: The USDA's E.A.T School Lunch UX Challenge

Posted December 23, 2015 by Chris Carlozzi

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is looking for a few good UX developers to help kids across the country get better access to school meal programs. The Electronic Application School (EAT) Lunch UX Challenge, hosted on DevPost, invites UX devs to create the USDA's first-ever model electronic application for households that apply for free or reduced-price school meals.

Households traditionally apply for these meals through paper or online applications to their respective schools. U.S. government assistance subsidizes all program meals and receives millions of these applications each year. But according to the USDA, the application and approval process is less than smooth:

Due to issues with reporting, calculating, and processing, many applications contain errors that result in incorrect eligibility decisions for children. The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) offers a prototype paper application on its website, and thousands of school districts have adopted or modified that application for their own use. Many districts also offer online applications, but the FNS does not have an electronic prototype for them to use as a model.

Developers are tasked with creating a forward-looking, web-based application form using personalized behavioral prompts, UX best practices, and edit-checks to assist in accurate form completion. The ideal application form will help facilitate access to program benefits for eligible children and strengthen program integrity by reducing application errors.

While warm-fuzzies will abound for anyone who helps tackle this challenge, the USDA is also offering $50,000 in cash prizes, with the best idea taking home a cool $20,000.

If you’re interested in participating, head over to the EAT School Lunch UX Challenge page on DevPost. Submissions are open now through March 1, 2016.