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Informational Only

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USDA E.A.T. School Lunch UX Challenge

Electronic Application Transformation: Create a model electronic application to help millions of students access school meals.

Department of Agriculture - Food and Nutrition Service

Total Cash Prizes Offered: $50,000
Type of Challenge: Software and apps
Submission Start: 12/01/2015 05:00 PM ET
Submission End: 03/01/2016 05:00 PM ET

This challenge is externally hosted.

You can view the challenge details here:


Electronic Application Transformation – Create a model electronic application for the National School Lunch Program and help millions of American students access school meals.

The cafeteria: it’s the nexus of school social life – a place to make friends finish up last night’s homework, refuel for recess, and play tic-tac-toe with your pizza toppings. But for many of America’s schoolchildren, the cafeteria also serves a more essential function – it’s where they receive half or more of their daily nutrition. An overwhelming majority of America’s school children—roughly 50 million elementary and secondary school students—attend institutions that participate in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) school meal programs. Most consume school meals on a regular basis. In total, about 100,000 schools and institutions serve more than five billion meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and two billion via the School Breakfast Program (SBP) to America’s children each school year. U.S. government assistance subsidizes all program meals and allows schools to serve free and substantially reduced-priced meals to children from low-income households. Traditionally, households have applied for free or reduced-price meal benefits by submitting paper or online applications to their schools. Millions of these applications are filed every year, and nearly 10 million low income children were approved to receive benefits in school year 2014-15 through these applications. However, due to issues with reporting, calculating, and processing, many applications contain errors that result in incorrect eligibility decisions for children. The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) offers a prototype paper application on its website, and thousands of school districts have adopted or modified that application for their own use. Many districts also offer online applications, but the FNS does not have an electronic prototype for them to use as a model. And that’s where you come in! We want you to develop a forward-looking, web-based application form using personalized behavioral prompts, UX best practices, and edit-checks to assist in accurate form completion. Applications must be skillfully and artfully designed to limit the burden on applicants and achieve two additional goals:
  1. Facilitate access to program benefits for eligible children, and
  2. Strengthen program integrity by reducing application errors.
Through this hackathon, we hope to develop a prototype that can be shared with all school districts, and that incorporates the best ideas and insights from UX designers and software developers. By participating, you have the chance to impact the user experience of millions of applicants and improve a program that helps ensure that American children have access to healthy school meals.


First prize
Cash Prize Amount: $20,000

Second Prize
Cash Prize Amount: $10,000

Third Prize
Cash Prize Amount: $5,000

Honorable Mention (5)
Cash Prize Amount: $10,000
⋆Student Award $1000 cash awarded to the highest scoring application created by one or more college student submitters. (All team members must be taking classes at a higher education institution to qualify.) See rules for complete details. ⋆Best Creative Design Aesthetic $1000 cash awarded to the application with the most creative design aesthetic. See rules for complete details. ⋆ Best Technical Implementation $1000 cash awarded to the application with the best technical implementation and function. See rules for complete details. ⋆ Best Behavioral Design Elements $1000 cash awarded to the application that includes the best behavioral prompts or behavior-influencing UX elements. See rules for complete details. ⋆ Popular Choice Award $1000 cash awarded to the public’s favorite application, as determined by the number of votes received. All visitors to Devpost’s website will be able to vote for as many finalist solutions as they like, but only once per solution. ⋆ Large Organization Recognition Award Non-cash, recognition for best application from an organization with more than 50 employees

Incentive Awards (5)
Cash Prize Amount: $5,000

Judging Criteria

UX and Design Appeal
Percentage: 30
Includes the degree to which the design reinvents the user experience of the form – focusing on usability, intuitiveness, and design appeal.

Effectiveness & Efficiency of Behavioral Prompts
Percentage: 25
Does the design keep the user engaged through user prompts? Does the design guide the applicants through all required fields and reduce mistakes? Does it do so efficiently, with well-designed skip patterns to avoid unnecessary questions?

Implementation of Form Requirements
Percentage: 15
Includes the extent to which the design adheres to the set of form and field requirements presented.

Application Code Documentation & Implementation
Percentage: 15
Includes the completeness and efficiency of the application documentation and code.

Demonstration of Testing and Debugging
Percentage: 15
Includes the extent to which user testing and debugging was performed and demonstrated within the submission.