NeighbourFood: Rescued food delivery program for people experiencing food insecurity and limited mobility
Over 42 million Americans are food insecure. For these people, putting food on the table every day is a struggle and often results in making tough tradeoffs between food and other expenses such as utilities, transportation, medicine, and housing. Overall, these individuals do not have regular access to food for a healthy, active life.
At the same time billions of pounds of food are wasted at stores, restaurants, and convenience stores. Thus, Feeding America invests in food rescue programs that safely and sustainably sources food from retail donations and utilizes a network of food agencies to distribute the food to those are in need.
While Feeding America supports millions of people through this model, it does not work for everyone. Our challenge was to envision new models of food rescue and delivery that do not require agency intervention and can accommodate perishable foods.
Empathy Building - human centered design
In order to better understand the experiences of individuals experiencing food insecurity I participated in a variety of primary research including:
- Observations at food pantries in the Chicagoland area, including Hillside Food Pantry
- Expert Interviews with food safety experts, food pantry administrators
- User Interviews with patrons to the food pantires
- Analogous research and service excursions
- Prototype testing with potential users
Journey + Stakeholder Maps
Rescued food takes an incredible intricate path from store to stomach. We created a journey map of food travel to illustrate and analyze this route.
The food rescue network consists of an incredibly complex network of stakeholders, which we mapped out in order to understand their interactions and needs. Crucially, while developing our solution we thought critically about how we can create value for each of the key stakeholders involved in the process. Specifically,
- Stores benefit financially through tax deductions by donating, but often lack the manpower to do so.
- Agencies have logistical challenges in receiving, storing and distributing food in addition to managing a team of volunteers.
- Individuals experiencing food insecurity desire to receive food in a convenient method that treats them with respect.
Design Solution + Impact
NeighbourFood consists of a food delivery network of individuals experiencing food insecurity serving those with limited mobility. Key to our system are microcommunities in which personal interaction is a key component of reliable food delivery.
In our Neighbourfood system Feeding America truck drivers visit retail stores to collect rescued food. The truck drivers then relocates to a a distribution point where volunteers pick up sorted food bags. These bags are then delivered to recipients who are unable to access food themselves due to limited mobility.
Through this process we were able to empower individuals experiencing food insecurity by providing them opportunity to give back to their community in meaningful ways. At the same time we are able to help individuals with limited mobility access rescued food. This solution helps expand the reach of Feeding America in order to help a greater number of individuals facing food insecurity.
Key to our solution was taking into account the emotional components of each of our stakeholders and investigating ways to enable trust between two people who have never met.
We presented to representatives from Feeding America, the Greater Chicago Food Depository, and local food depositories. All three stakeholders were excited by our work and are actively investigating paths to implementation.
Team: Christopher Datsikas, Umur Gokcek, Harrison Bourikas, Ma Jiayan, Morgan Lewis