With industry partner Feeding America

Project Brief

Our Service Design Studio course partnered with Feeding America to understand and ideate around how we might improve their services. My group of four other MS-EDI students and myself originally focused on how suppliers get perishable foods to agencies, such as food pantries and soup kitchens. However, after discussion with the client we pivoted to focus on efficiency and information sharing across the ecosystem. 

Roles I played

  • Conducted contextual observations

  • Created journey maps and service blueprints

  • Created mid-fidelity prototypes on PowerPoint and Figma

  • Generated of actionable insights

  • Assessed feasibility & viability of design for client

  • Formally presented insights and design to client

Project Process

Our studio course partnered with two large retail grocery stores that participated in Feeding America's Food Rescue program and two community food pantries that received the rescued food. My team and I conducted one contextual observation at a grocery location, one contextual observation at a food pantry, and one in-depth interview with that food pantry's manager.

The studio course pooled findings, creating a knowledge repository from which all teams were able to draw. Our collective efforts allowed me to create a stakeholder map and multiple journey maps, and propelled our team's hypotheses. After testing two low-fidelity prototypes in PowerPoint, we created a medium fidelity prototype in Figma. I built out a service blueprint to demonstrate how the components of the service worked together as an accompanying artifact to our research and Figma prototype.

Key Learnings

Research quickly demonstrated that inefficiencies were abound in this system. While managing in an already-chaotic environment, pantry managers couldn't plan for what food they would be receiving and, once it arrived, someone needed to double check that it was all distributable. On top of this, there were periods of the month or year in which they had a surplus of volunteers and had to turn people away, but at other times lacked support. The smallest pantries, suffered the most greatly with this because fewer interested volunteers knew that the pantry existed in the first place. Lastly, those in need of food assistance learned about pantries through word-of-mouth, but not all pantries could support their dietary needs, scheduling needs, or access to reliable transportation.

Project Outcomes

We created a web-based platform solution with printed supplementary materials to address inefficiencies in the process of getting food from suppliers to individuals experiencing food insecurity. Our single-entry-point solution gave suppliers access to capacity building resources, informed volunteers about where support was most needed, and provided individuals experiencing food insecurity with a simplified process for finding and getting to the food they need.