Project Title: Food Matters - Local Pantry 

Role: UX/UI Design & Research 

Project Challenge: Design a mobile phone app that empowers a specific audience to improve part of the chain of food collection and distribution. The app must provide a mode of measurement or service to single or multiple systems. The audience may be a party involved in some way in the supply chain or a messenger of public service (much like a watchdog monitoring and promoting awareness) around the severity of the insecurity issue of your choosing.

Adobe Creative Jam: Design for Change with SoDA agencies
Timeframe: Two Week Design Sprint
Tools: Adobe XD, Google Drive, & Zoom
Team: Genevieve Johnson & Omzee Pitchford

Process: Zoom calls, mentors, and a Los Angeles food pantry relic...

Results & Reflection: LA’s food banks are underutilized because not enough people in need know about them. Our app provides detailed, real-time directory information of all food banks in LA.

Problem, Insights, & Solutions: We created this app for food-insecure families across Los Angeles city. In LAUSD, 70% of elementary students, 50% of middle schoolers, and 42% of high schoolers rely on cafeterias for meals. Virtual classrooms have strained these students’ access to affordable healthy food. LA has a sprawling network of charities that provide free food to those in need, but there’s no comprehensive source to check their locations, hours, and required documentation. Our app will lead to less food waste by raising awareness of LA’s available resources.

Our app communicates critical information about pantries near users. From the landing page, people can explore the map and swipe through local options. On the Profile page, users can upload documentation, which informs search results and is formatted for convenient presentation at food banks. Visually impaired users can enable audio search, and immigrants can translate from a list of LA’s most widely spoken languages.

Secondary Research: These articles informed us about the issue - we learned that food swamps (areas with a high density of fast-food options) are better predictors of community obesity than food deserts (areas without food at all). We also learned that Los Angeles is the US county with the highest numbers of food insecurity for children and all people and the US county with the most massive increase of food insecurity for children and all people.

Even more strikingly, 70% of elementary students, 50% of middle schoolers, and 42% of high schoolers in the Los Angeles Unified School District rely on cafeterias for meals. Virtual classrooms have strained these students’ access to affordable healthy food.

  • Altamed Health/CHLA is screening patients for food insecurity, using the Hunger Vital Sign, a two-question food insecurity screening tool developed by the Nutrition and Obesity Network (NOPREN). It’s also piloting a grocery delivery service for 10 families who have very low food security to assess how this meets their nutrition needs. And it’s doing three-month follow ups with families that have participated in its Food Resources for Kids (FORK) program, which connects patients to sources of no- and low-cost healthy food. The clinicians want to understand barriers and challenges to attaining food security before expanding their programming.
  • APLA Health already has a robust food pantry operation, which it is in the process of expanding to meet 100 percent of their clients’ recommended daily nutrition needs. APLA Health, which serves a mostly low-income HIV-positive population at three clinic sites, is also exploring using One Degree, a social service referral platform often called the Yelp of community services. It would also like to include a community garden component staffed by volunteers.
  • Behavioral Health Services is implementing the Hunger Vital Sign screening tool at two clinic sites and will have specialized care coordinators use One Degree to make and track referrals at their Crenshaw clinic. BHS will collect data on the number of patients screened, the number of patients enrolled in CalFresh Food, and the number of referrals made to food resources. It also partnered with Wholesome Wave, offering $25 grocery gift cards to 1500 patients at three clinics as part of a pilot program. It is exploring the possibility of providing a ‘food prescription program’ and potentially hosting a pop-up farmers market on site.
  • Eisner Health is partnering with LA Neighborhood Land Trust and the L.A. Regional Food Bank on care packages distributed at its clinics as part of a pilot. Many families have expressed a preference to picking up groceries at the clinic. The clinic is also piloting talking tablets to survey patients about food insecurity.
  • LA LGBT Center is screening patients for food insecurity using both the Hunger Vital Sign and survey tool PRAPARE (Protocol for Responding to and Assessing Patients’ Assets, Risks, and Experiences). It is also working on training staff to help patients sign up for CalFresh Food and distributing grocery gift cards. It is also exploring partnering with an organization to offer a food pantry on site.
  • St. John’s Well Child & Family Center is getting ready to launch its own mobile food pantry, with the assistance of the L.A. Regional Food Bank, at its Crenshaw site. It is also referring food insecure patients to resources via the online tool Aunt Bertha.