Food Cycle

Bike-based delivery that provides fresh food to food insecure individuals, where riders are able to take a scenic tour of their city.

Photo of Levi Grimm
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Eligibility: Please confirm you meet all the following criteria

  • You are aged between 14 - 18 as of August 1, 2020
  • You live in the United States or its territories
  • You are not employed by, or directly related (grand parents, parents or siblings) to a current General Motors (GM) or Ashoka employee
  • You have been working on this project for at least three months
  • You consent to us possibly featuring your work on social media
  • You confirm you have the rights to use and share any content uploaded on this entry form

Eligibility: Date of Birth

October 2, 2003

What gender do you identify with?

  • Female

Help us stay in touch!

3371 Hamilton Cleves Rd, Hamilton, OH 45013, Suite 218 (513) 868-4538

Website or social media url(s) (optional):


Date You Started Your Project Started

March 1, 2020

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Across the nation, almost 40% of food is wasted, but 48 million Americans are food insecure, meaning they don’t have access to a stable source of food. The common solution to this problem is through food rescue, but with carbon emissions on the rise, the normal method isn’t as environmentally cautious. Food deserts, where fresh food is hard to access, are often causing another issue; obesity, with 39.6% of Americans affected.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Food Cycle combines the simple principle of food delivery with bicycling. The volunteer or person wanting to complete the food cycle journey simply download the free food cycle app, which connects them to pick-up and drop-off locations throughout their city. The volunteer would start at a location marked in their city to pick up food. In our community specifically, the biker would start at a local urban garden center that grows produce to donate to those in need. After pick-up, the Food Cycle app will lead the rider around the city to various landmarks and scenic locations as a sight-seeing tour. Along the way, the rider will drop off the food into vending machines at dispersed locations for those in need to receive food. Food will travel in cooler backpacks during transit, to keep it at safe food temperatures. The Food Cycle will focus on fresh produce and dairy products, two items that most Americans don’t consume enough of. Riders enjoy the experience of getting out in their community and enjoying exercise while helping those in need. By focusing on these principles, Food Cycle aims to help reduce obesity and food insecurity rates drastically.

3. Using STEM as a force of good: Please specify how are you using STEM to solve for an environmental challenge you are passionate about.

The problem of food waste and insecurity is a unique, life-long problem that needs an innovative solution. To find the answer, we instilled our innovative roots that we learned from STEM skills to come up with our solution and work out kinks along the way. Most food pantries can’t help everyone due to the lack of transportation, so we decided to bring rescued food to the recipient. We also realized that the most effective and easiest way to communicate directions and locations to the riders is through an app. People use their phones every day, with lots of apps to track everything from their steps to directions to their local store, so we believed that the most effective way to convey information was through the platform people use the most. Our team noted that for most food rescues, people use trucks or cars. However, both of these options cause carbon to be released into the atmosphere, hurting our environment. To solve this issue, we decided that biking is the best option for our solution. By rescuing food that would have gone into our landfills and adopting a more environmentally conscious principle of doing so, we are working to make our environment more sustainable.

4. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

We were inspired to make a change after realizing how much of our community can’t put food on the table the same way most families do. Our team is part of a larger organization of students, committed to ending the poverty and food insecurity cycles. As we’ve worked to help those in need, we’ve realized that many of those who need help don’t have a way to transport themselves to get that help. Because of this, they aren’t able to receive the valuable food they desperately need. Another issue we’ve noticed is that many people these days aren’t fit and healthy. With the rising obesity rate, we knew that there must be a simple way to solve this issue. Inspired by the idea of mobile food service, we decided to make a change.

5. Video (Keep it simple, a video made on a hand-held phone is great): Please upload a 1-minute video to YouTube that answers the following “I am stepping up to be a Changemaker because...”

6. Please highlight the key activities you have carried out to bring your project to life.

Our project has gone from a long-term problem to the perfect pairing of innovation. When first brainstorming ideas, we narrowed down our idea to which one we believed would be most feasible and implementable for our community. Our idea was a scavenger hunt, where the goal was to answer questions and deliver food along the way. The idea of changing our project to a bike-based delivery system helped to give our project structure but also introduced transporting more food.

7. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Rescuing food and donating to those who are food insecure is a well-known principle, but many times those who need assistance have trouble finding transportation. This can be difficult for those who already are struggling just to put food on the table. With the Food cycle, we are bringing rescued food directly to the recipient. Vending machines will be placed in accessible locations in our community that are known food deserts, so those who are food insecure can get the valuable food they need. Food cycle also introduces the idea that food given to those in need can be healthy and fresh.

8. Impact: In the last three months, please detail the impact your project has made?

We will know that our project is making an impact when we can see the reduction of two models in our community: food insecurity and lack of nutrition. Food Cycle gives those who don’t have the means to put food on the table, the resources to do so. When the hunger rate in our community decreases, we’ll know that the Food Cycle is truly making a difference. Another key factor to show that the Food Cycle is successful is when the rate of obesity decreases. The Food Cycle aims to tackle obesity and make our community a healthier place by providing those in need healthier options of food, as well as fresh produce. In turn, the rider is also exercising and biking throughout the city, helping to stay active. When both of these issues show a decrease, we will know that our mission has made an impact.

9. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

Our project is in the beginning stage, so next steps include programming and designing the app, as well as getting into contact with local food businesses, gardens, and other locations that would be willing to serve as pick-up points along the route. Drop-off locations will also need to be determined, where we will place our Food Cycle vending machines. Due to the current, changing conditions of the pandemic, we aren’t certain when we will be able to fully implement the Food Cycle, but we are working on developing our idea into a full-scale product. Since we are not able to meet in person to establish our idea, we are innovating to work remotely. With this opportunity, we are able to spend more time researching and fine-tuning our project.

10. Please share how you have influenced other young people to get involved in your project and/or care about environmental sustainability.

Food cycle is an easy way for anyone to become involved in the food rescue process, from collecting food to donating it to those in need. Many teens don’t have the motivation to become active and are glued to their devices. Food Cycle changes this with Food Cycle riders experiencing the joy of riding through their community, looking at landmarks and parks, while staying active. By riding with friends and family members, Food Cycle fosters the idea of staying active and helping out those in need.

11. Please share ideas of how you can partner with other changemakers to make a difference?

Food Cycle is a collaborative process and fosters the idea of creating relationships with others. We want to expand our mission to other changemakers. One of the best ways to implement a successful project is through collaboration. We believe that by working with others, we will not only be able to grow our project but other change-making projects as well. Through collaboration, we can expand our mission to reach other cities and towns across the country, making Food Cycle a normality.

12. How would you engage others who have never heard about your project to get their buy-in?

Food Cycle gives riders the chance to give back to the community while exercising and seeing their city. We’re combining the daily adventure of a bike ride with the experience of helping those in need. Food cycle is an innovative way to reduce our carbon footprint by combining food rescue with bike riding, helping to reduce our carbon emissions all around. By participating in a Food Cycle venture, riders are paving the way for a more sustainable community and environment for generations to come.


Thomas O'Neill,, 513-571-4236 Tim Cornelius, 513-738-4259 Greg Grimm,, 513-678-7502

Are you employed, or directly related (grand-parents, parents, sibling) to a GM or Ashoka employee?

  • No

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French) (6)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • No, I do not identify with an underrepresented community

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Participated in previous Ashoka challenges
  • Email

Evaluation results

24 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

Yes, absolutely! - 56%

Probably - 28%

Maybe - 12%

Probably not - 0%

No - 4%

2. CONNECTION to Environmental Sustainability

5 - Absolutely! It is totally clear that the solution is contributing directly to environmental sustainability and/or addressing climate change - 68%

4 — Yes, it establishes a connection to environment/ climate change but could be stronger - 20%

3 — Somewhat, the entry speaks to this environmental sustainability, but the direct impact is not well established - 8%

2 — Not really, the connection to environment/ climate is very weak - 0%

1 — No. The entry does not have a reference the solution’s impact on environment and/or climate change - 4%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%

3. Is this entry CREATIVE?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 72%

4 - Yes, I think so - 16%

3 - Maybe - 8%

2 - Probably not. - 0%

1 - No - 4%

No Answer - 0%

4. Does this entry demonstrate a COMMITMENT to changemaking?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 100%

4 - Yes, I think so - 29.4%

3 - Maybe - 11.8%

2 - Probably not - 0%

1 - No - 5.9%

No Answer - 0%

5. Does this entry value CHANGEMAKING through collaboration with other stakeholders in its approach?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 64%

4 - Yes, I think so - 20%

3 - Maybe - 12%

2 - Probably not - 0%

1 - No - 4%

No Answer - 0%

6. Is this entry VIABLE financially and operationally?

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 33.3%

4- Yes, I think so - 33.3%

3- Maybe - 22.2%

2- Probably not - 5.6%

1- No - 5.6%

No Answer - 0%

7. FEEDBACK: What are the strengths of this project?

CONNECTION: You have a great understanding and personal connection to the problem - 73.3%

CREATIVITY: You have researched existing solutions, and have developed unique, thoughtful new solutions to aid environmental sustainability/combat climate change - 100%

COMMITMENT: You have a thoughtful plan for growing your business, and your founding team has a strong combination of leadership and knowledge-based skills - 46.7%

CHANGEMAKER QUALITY: You value thinking around how to activate other changemakers and empower them to care about your cause. You also have a clearly defined plan on how to collaborate across multiple stakeholders - 46.7%

IMPACT MEASUREMENT: You use specific numbers and evidence to describe what your project has achieved so far (or plan to achieve in the future) and you have a plan for measuring impact - 20%

VIABLITY: You have given a great deal of thought to not just the idea itself but how to make it work from a financial perspective in the present and future - 40%

Other option - 0%

8. FEEDBACK: What are some areas for improvement for this project?

CONNECTION: Why you care about the environment/ climate was unclear – It would be great to elaborate on what this solution means to you, personally and how it affects you and/or your community. - 22.2%

CREATIVITY: Be more specific in your description of the research you have done into the past solutions to this problem and focus on how your solution is unique and innovative - 11.1%

COMMITMENT: Your plan for growing the organization can benefit from more specifics. How can you round out the various skills of your current leadership team to make the project a long-term success? - 11.1%

CHANGEMAKER QUALITY: Try to provide more insights into how you are activating changemakers and empowering them to innovate through your product or programming. How will they care about environment/climate if they currently do not? Think about how to create value for all stakeholders, not just immediate beneficiaries - 11.1%

IMPACT MEASUREMENT: Provide specific instances of your social impact and how you plan to measure impact – it may be helpful to describe the beneficiaries, products and programming, and provide evidence of (or plan for) how to measure impact - 88.9%

VIABILITY: Make sure you have provided descriptive information about your financial sustainability plan. Where do the funds come from now and do you have a concrete plan for future sustainability? - 100%

Nothing – I thought everything was great! - 33.3%

Other option - 11.1%


Join the conversation:

Photo of Ali Hussein

Hey Levi! What I really like about your project is that it tackles two issues at once. The story behind it is inspiring and I could see myself using your app one day to help distribute food in my community. Have you considered the option of people using their own bikes as well? This would maybe help out in the initial stages of the project as you ramp up your bicycle inventory. In addition, I am curious to learn more about how the vending machine system would work and how people would get access to it! Good luck to you and keep working hard on this great project!

Photo of Levi Grimm

Hi Ali Hussein  , we're glad you like the idea. With the project in the first few steps, it's crucial to see how the market will react, we're hoping to get more responses like yours. It's even better that you could envision yourself using the product. We have considered people bringing their own bikes. Coupled with this will be an app that everyone can download instead of it just being installed on the company phones. I agree that it would help us with our speed to market. The goal of the vending machines is to provide a way for the community members to access the food. We are talking through different designs, but we envision something similar to Amazon lockers. Community members could walk up to locker, enter a code, and receive the food with payment occurring online.

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