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The latest hit in the tablet wars has taken a decidedly softer edge, as thousands of disadvantaged Melbournians are now receiving free meals thanks to a new iPad app.

 

The application, developed by volunteers and employees from Melbourne food charity FareShare, has increased their capacity to rescue food, cook and deliver meals.

Working as a data-entry portal for FareShare's drivers, the application alerts chefs to what has been collected ahead of its delivery. It also reduces the charity's paper trail, improves monitoring and reporting, and increases efficiency.

Food Donations and Logistics Manager Chris Scott said the application is helping FareShare move towards its target of cooking one million free nutritious meals a year for charities, using good food that would otherwise be wasted.

'As soon as a driver finishes a pickup, they enter the amount of different ingredients they've collected, while back in the warehouse I can monitor in real-time the quantities of meat and vegetables that have been collected to be delivered to the kitchen.

'This information is helping our kitchen plan what to cook, and is increasing the number and diversity of meals we can make. We can also re-distribute packaged food straight to charities' doors faster than ever before,' said Chris.

Chris said FareShare is also saving hours of time by streamlining the data-entry process through the application.'¨ '¨'Drivers no longer need to handwrite delivery documents and we don't need to re-enter the information back in the office. This technology has meant I have an extra 2.5 hours each day to focus on rescuing more food and helping more charities,' he said.

Another flow-on benefit from the application is the ability to create comprehensive reports detailing the quantities and source of incoming and outgoing food. Chris believes this will help FareShare become more strategic over the long-term.

'The application and useful data we are accumulating is helping us to assess the feasibility of rescuing food from different supermarkets and other donors.  Some supermarkets are like the magic pudding, while we question whether others are worth the petrol and time visiting them.

'The data is also allowing us to assess our logistics, including routes and the number of times we visit a business each week.'

'It's exciting to think this application can help us do a great job even better in the future,' Chris said.

FareShare uses the technology on three 16gb Apple iPads that were kindly donated by volunteers.

Three more iPads are needed to equip FareShare's volunteer drivers and utilise the technology across all their pick-up and delivery work.

If you or someone you know would like to donate an iPad to the cause, contact FareShare on (03) 9428 0044, or to find out how else you can help visit: fareshare.net.au

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David Swan

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David Swan is a tech journalist from Melbourne and is iTWire's Associate Editor. Having started off as a games reviewer at the tender age of 14, he now has a degree in Journalism from RMIT (with Honours) and owns basically every gadget under the sun. You can email him at david.swan@itwire.com or follow him at twitter.com/mrdavidswan

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