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Sid Ramachandran ’21 Tackles Food Insecurity One “Byte” at a Time

Recent graduate Sid Ramachandran ’21 began volunteering at the local nonprofit Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK) since he was in seventh grade. While he was familiar with the organization’s mission to feed the hungry in the Trenton area and had spent many years serving food, raising awareness and donations, the COVID-19 pandemic presented him with a new way to help. 

As Ramachandran observed, the nonprofit was blessed with generous donations - so many that they had trouble tracking and processing everything. Because of pandemic restrictions, donations needed to be no-contact, so it became challenging for the TASK staff to figure out to whom to send tax receipts and how to properly thank donors.

Ramachandran tapped his programming expertise and developed a cloud-based application called MIDAS to help solve TASK’s challenge. The app allows donors to fill, print, label, and track their in-kind donations and receive online receipts as soon as the items are scanned.

“The appeal for donors included touch-free delivery, tax deductions, and lower disposal costs,” Ramachandran says.

He got hands-on experience in a programming class taught by math teacher Miguel Bayona when Ramachandran was a Lawrenceville Summer Scholar heading into middle school. He continued learning programming techniques and stretched his expertise through the MIDAS project.

With TASK on board, Ramachandran says he’s working on expanding the donor base to include local grocery stores, farms, and restaurants to donate their surplus, unplated, expired “sell-by,” and cosmetically damaged items through this app.

“With the network of volunteers already in place to safely pack and ship the items that are within the guidelines of the FDA and the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, the volume of food donated through the app is rapidly growing.”

He says developing the app “made me fall in love with the process of solving problems."

“At times it can be hard to see the end goal of how these things can be applied - to solve this problem - it was difficult at first,” he says. “I had to do research and leg work to address the issue.”

He added, “creating MIDAS and seeing it mature into an efficient and simple marvel of technology has bolstered my faith in the power of innovation.”

For additional information, please contact Lisa M. Gillard Hanson, director of Public Relations, at lgillard@lawrenceville.org.