University students tackle food insecurity at Halifax hackathon

Dozens of university students gathered in Halifax on Monday to take part in Food Hack Nova Scotia. Jennifer Grudic / Global News

Dozens of students from universities throughout Nova Scotia are gathering in Halifax this week for a unique innovation challenge taking place at Saint Mary’s University.

Food Hack Nova Scotia is the first innovation-driving food tech event of its kind in the province. It’s designed to generate real world ideas surrounding food sustainability, safety and security.

The two-day event is the result of a collaborative partnership between Spark Zone and U.K.-based company Pace Ventures.

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“The Spark Zone — which is a partnership between MSVU, NSCC, Saint Mary’s University, NSCAD University and the Atlantic School of Theology — it was just something near and dear to our hearts. We wanted to find a collaborative project together this year and being in a province where food insecurity is a huge problem — it was just a natural fit,” said Jordan Landry, manager of entrepreneurship with NSCC.

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Students are breaking into teams in order to brainstorm and come up with answers to questions like “how can we shape the future of food sustainability?” and “How does Nova Scotia become a trailblazer for food innovation?”

“A ‘Hackathon’ has evolved in nature over time. Originally it was just a bunch of people in a room just coding with hoodies on. Now, it’s more of a format and a vehicle to come up with innovative ideas to collaborate in a very intense amount of time.” said Umesh Kumar, CEO and co-founder of Pace Ventures.

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“It brings together a lot of people to work on singular or multiple problems.”

The event also features a number of guest speakers from the food industry, technology sectors and academia.

The Hackathon will wrap up with a judging round, with the team with the best idea taking home a cash prize.

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