aarav navani

Aarav Navani, an Indian American student at Evergreen Valley High School in San Jose, California, with images of his lunch app. (ESUHSD photo provided)

An Indian American junior at Evergreen Valley High School in San Jose, California, Aarav Navani, has been recognized by the East Side Union High School District Board of Trustees for the development of a meal order application for the more than 23,000 students of ESUHSD.

As a freshman, Navani observed a problem in the lunch ordering process in which students were waiting too long for lunch and he wanted to find a way to remedy this issue, said a press release. After receiving district approval, he worked throughout the 2020 pandemic year with the district’s IT department and Julie Kasberger, director of Child Nutrition Services, to develop a meal order app.

The young teenager was able to design a program that not only allows the students to customize their meals and pay online, but also allows cafeteria workers to gather data to quickly assemble the lunches in advance and decrease the long lunch lines significantly.

The district expects to save money by reducing food loss, increase productivity by assembling the meals in advance, and better data tracking of popular meals and the number of lunches served each day. “It is fantastic for students ordering and our team to be able to get ready the meals so efficiently,” said Kasberger.

Navani and the team at ESUHSD used a relational database application, scripting languages, and RESTful API’s to design and develop the cloud-based application that works on multiple different phone platforms. He also worked with a UI designer to make the app appealing to students.

“Aarav used his experience as a student and his skills as a programmer to make an app that will make lunch time a joy,” said Randy Phelps, ESUHSD Chief Technology Officer. “To see young people developing applications that have immediate and lasting impact for our students and staff is empowering and encouraging,” said Phelps.

"East Side has many talented students and Aarav is a perfect example," said Van Le, ESUHSD Board president. "He has developed a meal app that is a first of its kind, demonstrating innovation and efficiency. As a district, we will save both time and food. Congrats to Aarav! You make us proud!"

The application was beta tested from March 2021 to June 2021, with Navani enhancing the app to protect privacy considerations and adding increasing functionality. This fall/winter, the application will be available to all 23,000 students at the 17 ESUHSD schools.

Wingra Fang, a parent familiar with the situation at Evergreen Valley High School, commented about the student and his app: “Aarav is just such a product of the Silicon Valley mentality – find a problem and solve it.”

Navani said he enjoys problem solving and especially improving human efficiency. He is interested in continuing to develop tools that will improve the quality of life for his fellow students and make ESUHSD schools run more efficiently. Within the app itself, Navani is already thinking of adding support for different languages and nutritional information and allergy warnings for each food item.

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