Service Design Studio
Sponsored by Feeding America & Greater Chicago Food Depository (GCFD)
As part of a service design studio at Northwestern University, Feeding America tasked our cohort with designing services that could better assist the food insecure population. They were looking for ways to get more available food to the people who need it by addressing untapped opportunity areas that met the needs of their stakeholders. While they have helped millions of people that struggle with hunger, Feeding America has identified that they can do more. My team focused on identifying a solution to effectively recover and serve produce, dairy, eggs, and prepared food (i.e. perishables) from their retail partners directly to the food insecure population. We were challenged to maintain food safety and leverage available technology.
Team of 5
One Term (10 weeks)
Research & Synthesis
In order to gain an understanding of the existing food rescue process, we collaborated with a number of local food pantries and Greater Chicago Food Depository. As a group, we participated in food rescue from large retail stores, interviewed rescue coordinators and food safety experts, and helped to distribute food at local agencies.
Our team also conducted analogous research by means of a service excursion to Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse and Play it Again Sports. We used this opportunity in a parallel sector to provide us with insights.
After conducting over 40 hours of primary research, our team created a journey map to identify the roles and responsibilities of key participants, and how they interacted with one another to serve rescued food to the people who need it.
Insights & Design Opportunity
We synthesized the findings from our research and identified gaps in the current food rescue system. A number of key insights led us to a clear design opportunity – creating a service to provide perishable foods directly from retail stores to individuals with limited mobility by leveraging a volunteer network consisting largely of other food insecure persons.
People with limited mobility are not properly served
Often, volunteers at food pantries were/are food insecure
Improper handling of rescued food leads to unnecessary waste
From our insights, we drafted a service blueprint and identified key actions. Using this information, we designed prototypes and tested them with patrons of Hillside Food Pantry in Evanston, Illinois to address questions related to:
1) Raising recipient awareness and identifying methods to recruit volunteers
2) Food inspection and sorting logistics that do not involve food agencies in the process
3) Food delivery dynamics between volunteers and recipients
4) The best method of communication to share updates, alerts, and tracking information
Final Service Design Solution & Impact
Our solution, NeighbourFood, is a food delivery network of individuals experiencing food insecurity serving those with limited mobility. The service aims to build a community where personal interaction and empathy are the foundation.
Rescued perishable food is picked up at a specified retail location by two Feeding America employees with a truck and driven to a sorting and distribution location. The food is inspected and sorted into individual bags based on dietary restrictions, and a label is added to each bag that indicates the recipient's name and address. Volunteers then arrive at the truck to pick up the food for their recipient and deliver it directly to their home.
NeighbourFood does not just serve people with limited mobility, however. Upon signing up, volunteers can indicate if they are food insecure themselves. As a result, these volunteers are given a bag of fresh food each time they volunteer.
Feeding America & GCFD Presentation
We pitched our service to Feeding America and GCFD representatives as a solution that will allow them to expand their reach by bringing perishable foods directly to people who physically cannot get to food agencies on a normal basis.