UX Case Study: Designing a Solution to Food Waste

$31 billion worth of food is wasted each year in Canada.
This is a very real problem when 1 in 7 Canadian families go hungry every night.

MY ROLE

In my team of 11, I was primarily responsible for the research and planning stages. However, since this was an agile and scrum environment, as my tasks were winding down, I helped contribute to wireframing, prototyping, testing, creating the presentation deck and presenting to our client.

THE CHALLENGE

We were presented with the challenge of reducing food waste. As we started our research and looked at key players in helping reduce food waste, we discovered that the goals of Second Harvest, a food rescue agency in Toronto, aligned with our mission. Second Harvest sought to fight hunger by reducing food waste. We were looking to reduce food waste, and if we could help fight hunger along the way, even better. We decided to partner together to find a solution.

RESEARCH

We dove head on into research. We looked at the different players in the food value chain — consumers, producers and organizations. We asked questions like, who wastes food? How do they do it and which group should we focus on?

We also conducted interviews with small businesses, sent surveys to consumers, and did a lot of domain research to learn about what is already being done to reduce food waste — what’s been done well and what hasn’t been done before. We also looked at articles and studies of the problem at large and solutions that were taking place globally.

An affinity diagram we started within our team to see if there was a pattern or theme to help us with our research.

I also interviewed a staff at Second Harvest to learn more about what their food rescue process looked like and also to see if we could identify pain points along the way. In our conversation she told me how they were a small agency made up of about 35 people and 11 drivers. They pick up food donations and redistribute them to 225 service agencies throughout Toronto and beyond. These agencies in turn serve those in hunger or need food assistance.

She noted how they weren’t able to serve those at an individual level or on a smaller scale. It was inefficient for them to pick up donations that were less than 100lbs. They had low resources and it was hard to spread it even thinner — even if those donations were valuable and impactful.

Another thing we learned was that everything Second Harvest was doing now, was all done manually. There was no way for Second Harvest to know what kind of donations they were receiving and the agencies would only know what they get upon drop off.

Results of our collaborative brainstorming and research.

THE OPPORTUNITY

This got us to thinking, what if we could help create something for Second Harvest that would efficiently connect small scale donors with agencies serving those in need?

The opportunity.

This also made sense with our research which showed that about 44% of food waste is created by consumers and another 44% by restaurants and grocery stores. This is perpetuated by the food paradigm of those who have too much choice versus those who don’t have any choice.

We realized that we needed to help create a tool to make donations easy and accessible. We began brainstorming, asking new questions, looking at the information we had started collecting and defining who our primary users were.

We realized that there would be 5 users we’d be serving:

The Donor would be the ones with donations less than 100lbs. They didn’t like that they were contributing to food waste and wanted to take steps in reducing it.

The Driver would be the people who help pick up donations and drop it off to the agencies.

The Agencies are the non-profit organizations serving those in hunger or needing food assistance.

The Diner are those that don’t have access to healthy food. We wanted to make it easily accessible for them.

The Moderator would be Second Harvest. They would oversee the whole process and the donation pick ups and drop offs would be within their network of vetted donors and agencies.

Our goal was to create a multiplatform app that easily connected donors with agencies so that diners could have easy access to healthy food.

Our users and how they connect with each other.

FEEDBACK: A MULTIPLATFORM APP​​​​​​​

Core features:

- Drivers, donors and nonprofit agencies will be synced using feedback and the information of their activities will be accessible in real-time.

- Donors will be able to donate their surplus food conveniently through the app.

- Drivers will be able to use the mapping system to see where the food is and where it needs to go. They will also be able to communicate with donors and agencies through the app.

- Nonprofit agencies will be able to track their inventory as well as the flow of incoming and outgoing food.

- Diners will be able to locate and view food available at a nearby agency through the app.

Flow of FEEDBACK.

DESIGN

Based on research we found that donors, likely to be in the mid-high income bracket, would most likely be using iOS phones. Diners, likely to be in the mid-low income bracket would most likely be using Android phones and agencies would most likely be accessing the platform on a desktop in an office-like environment.

We created our designs with that in mind. I helped to create low fidelity sketches for the donor and diner app as well as the desktop platform while the design team took those to high fidelity.

The thinking behind the design of the app was to make it fun, playful, easy to use and inclusive.

High fidelity screens of the donor making a donation and scheduling a pick up.

Here’s a link to our donor prototype: https://invis.io/XS98RK05F

High fidelity screens of the diner seeing what is easily accessible to them.

Here’s a link to our diner prototype: https://invis.io/YH94GA7TD

High fidelity screen of the moderator dashboard.

ROADMAP TO THE FUTURE

My team and I are so excited to see this multi-platform app come into reality. We made further proposals for this concept to expand and have more impact going into the future.

Future road-mapping for FEEDBACK.

What began as a design sprint, we believe can now make an impactful difference in this global food waste problem. We are proud to have worked with Second Harvest, The Walmart Foundation and MetaLab in making this a reality.

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Photographer, designer, food enthusiast.

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Amanda Cheung

Amanda Cheung

Photographer, designer, food enthusiast.

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