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Published: Sunday, 5/4/2014

Ohio food banks hope new mobile app can be used to increase donations


CINCINNATI — A mobile app developed by Miami University students as a way to help people donate to food banks in the fight against hunger has support from the Ohio Association of Foodbanks.

The association has invested $5,000 in the free app rolled out to the public for android use last Thursday by NomNom Nation LLC. The suburban Cincinnati-based company hopes to offer an IOS version by June 1.

Once the app is downloaded on a smartphone, users can click on it to allocate donations to listed food items most needed by local food bank.

Association spokeswoman Joree Jacobs says one of the organization’s member food banks is testing the app among some southwestern Ohio donors through May. The hope is to eventually expand its use statewide.

The Fairfield-based Shared Harvest Foodbank has sent hundreds of postcards and is using social media to notify supporters in the Oxford area about the app. Shared Harvest’s executive director, Tina Osso, says the traditional donor base is aging and the app will let food banks reach out to younger donors.

“We’re hoping that it will engage the next generation of people,” Osso said.

She said the app’s first-day use provided enough donations for 200 meals.

The five students who founded the company at the university in Oxford, in southwest Ohio, graduated within the past two years, but co-founder Brent Bielinski continues to lead the effort as chief executive officer and two current Miami students are helping the launch. The company’s name refers to “nom nom” or “nomming,” a term for a sound people make eating food.

NomNom Nation would charge food banks a flat 5 percent of the amount of donations raised through the app on a monthly basis, Bielinski said. That charge also covers the company’s services to help food banks build their donor base.

“We intend to scale the NomNom Nation app to a national level and make it available to all food banks after it takes off in Ohio,” he said.

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