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Okanagan College students tackle food security with Refreshing idea
Okanagan College Media Release

Inventathon team 2017Three Okanagan College business students battled their way to first place at UBC Okanagan’s inaugural Inventathon last weekend and took home $600 in prize money for their innovative and socially conscious business idea, Refresh.

Cameron Starcheski, Cooper Simpson and Darren Gillespie, all members of Okanagan College’s Enactus team, were joined by Jaren Larsen and Pablo Doskoch from UBC Okanagan and given 24 hours to create a business idea that would provide solutions to one of four major social issues: financial literacy, youth empowerment, eco green, or food security.

The team spent four hours brainstorming before coming up with the idea for Refresh—a social enterprise that helps reconcile the issues of food waste and food scarcity in the Okanagan.

“We know based on secondary research that each year in Canada more than $31 billion dollars worth of food ends up in the garbage or compost,” explained Starcheski, Vice President of Enactus Okanagan College. “When you consider that more than 850,000 people rely on the food bank for meals it seems like a fairly obvious supply and demand issue.”

Starcheski and his team knew others have tried to make an impact in the area of repurposing healthy food for people in need but there is yet to be a sustainable model that works and provides a revenue source. The problems, according to Starcheski, lie in the food safety, storage and redistribution.

“We came up with a concept for a mobile refrigerated truck that could access grocery stores, cafeterias and even restaurants to pick up high quality food that was slated for waste and operate as a mobile food vendor,” he says.

“With Refresh there’s no need for overnight storage or repackaging because the truck is refrigerated and is able to provide a direct connection between the source and the end user. That simplifies a huge part of the process and allows for easy and safe redistribution.”

After a grueling 24 hours of planning, the team took their idea and pitched it to a group of 15 business professionals and was awarded first place in the Inventathon competition.

“I’m really happy with the results from Inventathon,” says Starcheski. “I think it’s a good idea and we will be moving forward to further develop the idea and engage in some primary research at Enactus Okanagan College.”