As the offspring of Chinese immigrants, I vividly remember skipping meals prior to going to Mandarin Buffet and Grill for dinner among other local Asian restaurants throughout my childhood. Memories like these are what makes it particularly heartbreaking for me to watch predominantly Asian-American restaurants, as well as low-income households, suffer the most amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Stricken by xenophobia, Oakland and San Francisco Chinatown restaurants report business having declined by 50% or more. On the other hand, food banks are being overwhelmed with millions of Americans left unemployed and devastated by lay-offs.
Bored out of our minds during the quarantine during the last semester of my senior year, a group of 7 friends and I created OpenMeal. Our backend is written in Python and utilizes the Flask framework and our frontend is written in Typescript and utilizes React.
Our platform provides value for users by attending to their role-specific needs: givers can contribute to relief efforts by donating to a "universal pool" of funds, people in need can receive a weekly quota from this pool of funds to "purchase" food from restaurants, and restaurants can gain exposure by listing their profiles/menus onto the platform while also receiving the business they need to pull through this crisis. Our user roadmap is as follows:
- 7 San Francisco Bay Area Asian restaurants partnered with us
- Givers contribute money to a universal pool of claimable money
- Receivers redeem part of their weekly at our partnered Asian restaurants on our website and receive a confirmation code.
- Receivers go to the Asian restaurant and input the confirmation code on our site on the restaurant's device.
- The restaurant makes the food and gives it to the receiver.
After recently launching, as of May 21st 2020, we've raised a little over $3,600 and served nearly 50 meals to those in need from impacted Asian restaurants.