Food & Drink

PapayaHead competes for grant

Olympia-based Papaya-  is in the running to receive a grant as part of the "Healthy Apps for Kids" competition.

The competition, an initiative of the “Let’s Move” campaign and sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture, challenges software developers, game designers and other innovators to develop software programs that drive children to eat better and be more active.

Dean Jenkins, president and CEO of the website, said the idea for Papaya-Head came about five years ago.

“I wanted to eat healthier,” Jenkins said. “There was a lot of information about eating better online, but not any tools or meal plans.”

Jenkins left Intel Corp. in 2007, and with a team of doctors and dieticians, sought to make a website that would do just that.

PapayaHead allows consumers to create nutrient profiles, select healthy foods and build meal plans to create a healthier diet online.

The website also provides a database of 600 healthy recipes imported from the company’s dieticians as well as Department of Health websites.

Most of the tools on the website are free, but Papaya-Head offers a $5 monthly subscription for consumers who would like the company’s dieticians to e-mail weekly dinner plans.

Jenkins said competition applicants submitted their website address and a written statement explaining who they are and what they plan to accomplish with their product. Each submission must also incorporate the most recent USDA Nutrition Dataset.

The contest has two categories: games and tools. There will be a grand prize ($10,000), runner-up ($4,500) and honorable mention ($1,000) winner in each category. Papaya-Head is one of 28 programs selected for the tools category; if chosen to receive a grant, Jenkins said PapayaHead would use the money to further develop its website.

He said this includes formatting the website for smart phones, and partnering with grocery stores, so that Papaya-Head users could coordinate meal plans and shopping lists. The public voting period is now open and will continue until Aug. 14 at noon. Public voting will determine the winner of the Popular Choice Winner, worth $4,500. To vote for PapayaHead, go to