Top award: Ross High School students invent app to help the hungry

Some Ross High School students are regional winners in a national contest after inventing a mobile device app that helps needy families find local food pantries.

And someday the teens may be selling the app to food pantries and food banks across America.

Their “Smart-Pantry” app has won the local U.S. Congressional App Challenge, which spans 47 states and territories, for the 8th Congressional district that includes their Butler County school system of Ross Schools.

Created as part of computer science class – coordinated by Butler Tech career school system at the high school — three students, Jacob Kahmann, Gunner Nonnamker and Kyle Inderhees, recently were visited by Congressman Warren Davidson, R-Troy, who praised their work.

Davidson issued a statement last week lauding the teens for creating “this app to set the standard for efficient food collection and distribution.”

Butler Tech IT Instructor Tom O’Neill said the students’ app, which includes features that help users locate the nearest food pantry, improve food collection procedures and allows pantries to better monitor for fraud by users, said the national challenge provides a real-life learning opportunity for his students.

“The Congressional App Challenge provides my students with an opportunity to develop solutions to real-world problems. This app helps people locate food pantries and is designed to increase efficiency at food pantries and food banks,” said O’Neill.

The students are continuing to add features to the app and are working on turning it into a commercial product, said O’Neill, who in recent years helped numerous Ross High School teens win national honors for their computer-science-based inventions.

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Inderhees, a senior, said “we have multiple versions of the app planned out and the idea is to eventually sell to food banks and food pantries. It’s a been a complete learning curve for all three of us and we have learned a lot.”

Brian Martin, principal of Ross High School, said it’s “extremely exciting” to watch students excel on the state, national and international stages.

The superintendent of Ross Schools described the invention as reflecting O’Neill’s class — and others at the highly rated district – as focused on solving problems beyond the classroom.

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“The staff and students in the Ross school district continue to amaze me with their future-thinking and innovation,” said Superintendent Scott Gates. “Our students are not only thinking about careers, they are thinking about problems and issues they want to change, solve or improve. The app that was created is very unique and will make serving a population in need more efficient.”

The three inventors will be invited in the spring to a Congressional App Challenge hosted by Congress in the nation’s capital.

Winners will each also receive $250 in credits for Amazon’s Educate program.

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