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If that sounds like a lofty title for a blog post, it’s not. It’s based on a very real story, about a very real group of people, who are trying to do very real good in the world. If you’ve not yet heard of them, then it is my very real pleasure to introduce you to Hacksmiths!

What is Hacksmiths? Hacksmiths is actually a “who,” and here’s how they describe themselves:

The Hacksmiths are a group of software professionals working collaboratively in a virtual environment in an effort to solve real world problems through the development of software.

There is a little more to this description than first meets the eye. This “group of software professionals” actually shares a common connection which at first may not be obvious, but is revealed in a recent blog post on the site:

Hacksmiths brings together software professionals who have met while learning or deepening their craft through the world’s top online tech education provider, Udacity. Pooling our skills, we work on projects that benefit people in need. The team is geographically dispersed and culturally diverse.

Udacity was born some five years ago, and I suspect if you’d walked into one of those early Udacity meetings and asked those few dreamers to describe the kinds of actions they hoped to one day inspire, they might possibly have envisioned something very similar to Hacksmiths. They would have detailed it, drawn energy from the vision of it, and for a moment almost believed it was already real. Then, after a brief silence, they would have shaken themselves from the reverie, and gotten back to the business of trying to build a new way to learn.

Fast forward to 2016, and Hacksmiths is very real, and about to launch their pilot project, an app called Food Drivr. Built with close input from Waste Not Food Taxi, a non-profit hunger relief organization based in Portland, OR, the app leverages an Uber model to combat food waste by utilizing a network of drivers who can quickly pick up leftover food from schools, offices, stores, and more, and deliver it to the nearest hunger relief partner.

As Waste Not Food Taxi describes it:

Waste Not Food Taxi is simple. Organizations with leftover edible food text or phone us. We send over a volunteer to pick up the food and get it to the nearest hunger relief partner.

And here is the Hacksmiths app description:

The Food Drivr website and mobile app serves to make it dead simple to donate edible food to the hungry. Open the app, press a button and a driver will come pick it up, bringing it to the less fortunate.

Hacksmiths is the brainchild of two Udacity students, Ryan Collins and Sean Craig, but the work being done on the Food Drivr app has truly been a collective effort—nearly 20 Udacity students from 5 different countries have come together to do this work. This global sensibility is a key component of the Hacksmiths mission, and it clearly informs their vision for the Food Drivr app. It is an open source project, and can be utilized by any organization anywhere doing work similar to Waste Not Food Taxi, so while Waste Not Food Taxi takes on hunger head-on in Portland, OR, Food Drivr has to potential to do the same on a global level.

If this sounds like little more than saving a few scraps and passing them out down the road, I encourage you to watch the following TEDTalks episode, in which Tristram Stuart details what he terms “The Global Food Waste Scandal.”

I personally discovered this powerful talk courtesy of a tweeted link that @teamhacksmiths sent out. Just a small example of their genuine engagement with this issue, but a powerful one all the same: 2016-05-04 21-32-21

Work on the Food Drivr app is coming to an end, and it will be our very real pleasure to share with you the launch announcement when it comes. In the meantime, I sincerely hope you’ve been inspired by the work this group is engaged in. If you’re a Nanodegree student right now, or a member of our alumni community, I hope this story serves to remind you that you are part of something very special in the world. And if you’re not yet a Nanodegree student, then perhaps this story will inspire you to consider us as a partner in the future you will help build.

Christopher Watkins
Christopher Watkins
Christopher Watkins is Senior Writer and Chief Words Officer at Udacity. He types on a MacBook or iPad by day, and either an Underwood, Remington, or Royal by night. He carries a Moleskine everywhere.