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Start it Up: A Report from Food+Tech Connect’s Hack//Dining Hackathon

Last weekend, nearly 200 participants inhabited the Manhattan workshop space General Assembly for a weekend-long marathon of hacking solutions to the dilemmas facing dining today. Called Hack//Dining NYC, the event was the latest in the series of hackathons hosted by Food+Tech Connect, founded by Danielle Gould. Previous hackathons have focused on Meat (Hack / Meat) or the Farm Bill (Farm Bill Hackathon). Through these and other events, Food+Tech Connect has garnered a following from both the tech and food communities eager to find more advanced ways to address today’s food system challenges. Read more

Hacking The Farm Bill

Rebecca Klein wasn’t expecting a lot when she signed up to attend last week’s Farm Bill Hackathon. This public health expert from the Center for a Livable Future at Johns Hopkins University had never heard of a hackathon–a gathering of computer programmers who lock themselves in a room to tackle epic projects with unrestricted creativity–until around two weeks before the event. While the idea of bringing together other sustainable food advocates with computer programmers interested in helping them build tools appealed to her, it also seemed a little ambitious.

The event, which took place last Saturday, was designed to encourage multiple teams of participants to take a project (infographics and online tools) from concept to execution in a single day. “It just seemed like too little time,” says Klein. “I’d never been to an event to tackle an issue where the attendees weren’t hand-selected in advance.” The results–an array of infographics, apps, and other tools made by over 120 people who attended either in person or via the web–surprised her. “The energy in the room was palpable and the power of bringing such diverse expertise into one room was inspiring. This one day planted a whole bunch of seeds for projects and ideas that would have never existed without coming together in that room (and via the web) for that concentrated time,” she says. Read more