Utrition wins Rep. Jackie Speier’s 2022 Congressional App Challenge in California’s 14th District

Rep. Jackie Speier has named Juha Park, a Ninth Grader at San Mateo High School, as the winner of the 2022 Congressional App Challenge in California’s 14th District.

When asked what inspired the creation of Utrition, the student said, ”One day, I came across an article online that talked about hidden sugars in your snacks. It said that although ingredients on labels are always required to be listed in order of quantity, some processed foods with a high sugar content intentionally use multiple types of sweeteners to “break it up” into smaller amounts. With this, sugar won’t be listed as one of the primary ingredients anymore, even though the amount stays the same. Scrolling down the page, there was a long list of different sweetener names, and I looked with growing horror at the empty box of “healthy” cookies next to me – there were 5 to 6 of those sweeteners listed at once! That got me looking into how to read ingredient/nutrition labels, and I learned that there are a lot of pitfalls you can fall into while reading them (e.g. serving sizes, generalized/alternate names of ingredients). Thinking about how tedious it is to search and look out for these things one by one, I got the idea to make Utrition, an app to help you avoid those pitfalls and make it easier to figure out what you’re eating.”

The Congressional App Challenge smashed previous participation records in 2022. All told, 9,011 students registered for this year’s competition – creating 2,707 fully-functioning apps for 335 Members of Congress across 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Mariana Islands, American Samoa, and the District of Columbia. This year’s competition set the record for most student registrations, most apps submitted, most apps per district submitted, and most districts receiving over 20 apps. The wildly successful competition continues to impress upon House Members the importance of computer science education and the need to develop a pipeline of diverse, domestic STEM talent. 

The Congressional App Challenge is an official initiative of the U.S. House of Representatives, where Members of Congress host contests in their districts for middle school and high school students, encouraging them to learn to code and inspiring them to pursue careers in computer science. Each participating Member of Congress selects a winning app from their district, and each winning team is invited to showcase their winning app to Congress during our annual #HouseOfCode festival. The program is a public-private partnership made possible through funding from Omidyar Network, AWS, Rise, theCoderSchool, Apple, and others.

The 2023 Congressional App Challenge will launch in June of 2023, and eligible students can pre-register for the competition now.