Diana Balderas, a 17-year-old senior at Golden Valley High School, was named California’s 23rd Congressional District winner of the 2017 Congressional App Challenge for her creation of Food Distribution, a hunger-prevention app.
Hosted by the 190 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Congressional App Challenge encourages student constituents to code original apps as part of district-wide, regional competitions across 42 states.
Currently in its third year, the competition aims to engage students in coding and computing science.
This year, more than 4,100 students participated in the 14-week regional competition and submitted more than 1,270 original student-created apps.
One of these students was Balderas, who was chosen as a winner for Kevin McCarthy’s 23rd Congressional District after creating her app called Food Distribution, which balances food waste and hunger.
“I was not expecting to win this competition at all but when the representative from my district called me to announce that I was the winner, I was speechless,” Balderas said. “However, I felt proud that my idea is being recognized because it is an issue that needs to be solved in today’s world.”
Balderas first began creating the app at the USC Young Researchers Program this summer with the goal of ending hunger and food waste in America.
“I came up with the idea last year when I was invited to Snap Inc. by a woman who inspired to follow what I believe in and make it happen,” Balderas said. “I actually started building the idea little by little until this summer when I had the opportunity to have the help I need it at USC, the app was officially made and with the guidance from Yixue Zhao, a Ph.D. student at USC.”
The mobile application allows users to upload their own food, search for food or donate a gift card to individuals and organizations in their community.
Users can directly interact with those who uploaded items by contacting them through phone numbers or email addresses.
One day Balderas hopes to open the app to the public on the app store so individuals in the Santa Clarita Valley can begin using Food Distribution to help others in the community.
“I would love to open the app to the public so that the community can use it but there are new updates I want to implement before it goes live and also receive funding to share it especially in the Apple Store since I do not own a Macbook to make it happen,” Balderas said. “Also, I have sponsorships from tech companies who are willing to collaborate to extend the app worldwide and provide delivering services.”
In addition to creating her original app, Balderas is involved with Technolochicas, Technovation, Kode With Klossy and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation.
Recently, she was also awarded a gold medal and scholarship, sponsored by Google, from the Hispanic Heritage Foundation in late-November 2017.
She hopes to continue her entrepreneurial efforts when she enrolls in college to study computer science and engineering.
As a winner of the Congressional App Challenge, Balderas will be awarded $250 in Amazon Web Service credits and her work will be put on display in the Capitol building in Washington, D.C.
She also will have the opportunity to showcase her app to members of Congress and members of the tech community at reception held on Capitol Hill in April 2018.
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_