Creating a system
to reduce hunger

Challenge
Identify a problem that would benefit from a systematic approach that incorporates both physical and digital product design.
Project Time
5 weeks

What problem should the system solve?

The world is inundated with problems ripe with opportunities to better the experiences of those around us. As a designer, it can be challenging to know where to focus your passion to enact meaninful change.

I came up with a simple strategy for quickly exploring a wide range of directions. The phrase, "why don't more people ________"?, allowed me to identify a direction with a potential user in mind right from the start.

Further exploration of the donation category revealed food recovery as an intriguing option. In addition to the impact more recovered food could have on peoples' lives, I was excited to leverage over fifteen years of restaurant industry experience to increase fluency of communications as well as provide a strong foundation of empathy with the prospective stakeholders helping to solve the problem.

Driving Empathy Through Research

40%
of food in the U.S. goes uneaten
1 in 6
households do not have enough money for food
56%
of restaurant fear liability concerns for donation
1.4%
of restaurants waste their food surplus
1996
BILL EMMERSON ACT
Donors are protected from all liability apart from gross negligence and intentional misconduct.
84%
of restaurant food ends in a landfill

So why aren't restaurants donating their surplus?

Further exploration of the donation category revealed food recovery as an intriguing option. In addition to the impact more recovered food could have on peoples' lives, I was excited to leverage over fifteen years of restaurant industry experience to increase fluency of communications as well as provide a strong foundation of empathy with the prospective stakeholders helping to solve the problem.

Austin

Executive Chef | Farm to Table Restaurant Owner

Q
A
&
Why do you think restaurants don't donate their surplus?
I think it's laziness. As soon as a system is put into place, things just happen that way...so we have a system in place for composting and my guys just know what can go in there and where it goes.
What do you think would compel restaurants to begin donating their surplus?
I think that some kind of tax rebate or credit would go a long way. Also, name recognition would help build a good public image.
Q
A
&
Why do you think restaurants don't donate their surplus?
I think it's laziness. As soon as a system is put into place, things just happen that way...so we have a system in place for composting and my guys just know what can go in there and where it goes.
Q
A
&
What do you think would compel restaurants to begin donating their surplus?
I think that some kind of tax rebate or credit would go a long way. Also, name recognition would help build a good public image.
Justin

Executive Chef | Farm to Table Restaurant Owner

Q
A
&
Why do you think restaurants don't donate their surplus?
I think it's a number of things. I think with the average restaurant, you need to incentivize it. Also, a set of procedures that maintain a good working relationship with the health department regarding liability. Storing the donation is also a concern.
What do you think of a tax benefit system like experienced at Goodwill?
Coming up with a base value on food per pound would be ideal to be able to reclaim waste value agains net income over the year. It'd be foolish not to.
Q
A
&
Why do you think restaurants don't donate their surplus?
I think it's a number of things. I think with the average restaurant, you need to incentivize it. Also, a set of procedures that maintain a good working relationship with the health department regarding liability. Storing the donation is also a concern.
Q
A
&
What do you think of a tax benefit system like experienced at Goodwill?
Coming up with a base value on food per pound would be ideal to be able to reclaim waste value agains net income over the year. It'd be foolish not to.
Patrick

Department of Human Services

Q
A
&
What are the guidelines and procedures for food recovery within restaurants?
Local public health [in Michigan] does not directly regulate donated foods or food pantries. Our role in food service is is solely to the provision of food intended for immediate consumption.
Regarding allowable food donations for human consumption, most restaurants are reluctant to contribute due to potential food borne illness liability claims. However, liability surrounding these allowable donations should be exempted under the Bill Emerson Act so long as there is no negligence on the part of the restaurant.
Q
A
&
What are the guidelines and procedures for food recovery within restaurants?
Local public health [in Michigan] does not directly regulate donated foods or food pantries. Our role in food service is is solely to the provision of food intended for immediate consumption.
Regarding allowable food donations for human consumption, most restaurants are reluctant to contribute due to potential food borne illness liability claims. However, liability surrounding these allowable donations should be exempted under the Bill Emerson Act so long as there is no negligence on the part of the restaurant.

Interview insights

Liability concern pertaining to food borne illness is not grounded in fact.
Systems can help to normalize a behavior, create consistency, and educate potential users.
Donation storage needs to be integrated into any systems built for increasing donations.
Incentives, such as a tax deduction, could be a strong motivator in gaining participants.
A base value for food donated could offer clarity to potential participants.

Observations

The Food Recovery Network Operating in the Cafeteria
Mobile storager within walk-in cooler.
Vertical storage unit that has a permanent foot print.
Unstructured lids make for unsteady stackability.
Average consumer vehicles are the primary means of transportation.
Local Restaurant Observations
Speed rack offers mobility within the restaurant.
A collection system of some kind already in place.
Low profile vacancies underutilized.
Wall space and spaces between existing equipment.

Development of the Two Part System

Goal
Develop a standardized system that encourages restaurants to donate their surplus by leveraging business goals and their current work flow.
Challenges
How might we solve for the donation storage concern and develop a system that ensures food safety, tracks the donations, and delivers tax breaks for the food donated?

One part of the system, the Delivery Cart, meets restaurant staff where they are by considering the limited space of their kitchens. The other part of the system is the Delivery App. The app allows the food banks to communicate a need and the restaurants to communicate availability. Additionally, the app will maintain a running tally for the amount of food donated and the tax credit value they are able to write off at year’s end.

Part One: The Delivery Cart

Addressing the concern for donation storage, I developed a low profile cart that can be stowed away when not in use, and placed directly in the walk-in refrigerator when standardized kitchen pans full of food are being set aside for donation.

Sketch Ideation
Prototyping
1
Bioplastic Injection Molding
allows affordable durability
2
Aluminum
for base of telescoping handle
3
Scale Components
for weighing donations
4
Structural Ribbing
with 1.5 draft angle
5
Threaded Inserts
that fits industry standard pans
6
Swivel Casters
to log donation size for tax benefits
7
Ratchet Winch
secures donation to the cart
Part Two: The App

The app component of the delivery system helps restaurants find food banks and pantries to partner with, ensures the safe transportation of food and tracks the tax credit value recieved for the donations.

Wireframing
Prototyping
The System
1
Neoprene Insulation
to stabilize temperatures during transit
2
Telescoping Handle
to enable compact storage
3
Spring Button
allows telescoping handle to adujust
4
Scale Beneath Recess
to fit industry standard pan size
5
Scale Tare / Read Out
to post donation size for delivery
6
Grip / Bumper
for comfortable lifting and edge protection
7
Neoprene Storage
for neoprene insulator when not in use
8
Ratchet Lever
to secure donation pans firmly to cart
9
Ratchet Strap Hook
attaches to opposing side of the cart
10
Ratchet Strap Release Lever
releases tension for unloading donation
The Delivery Project
Remove the cart from storage
In the cooler, stack the donation
Tare pan weight and weigh the donation
Post your available dontation
Partner finds and grabs the donation
Ensure that your donation was recorded
Strap the donation securely to the cart
Lift the handle and insulate the donation
With the handle down, transport the donation