SenseFiction Part II – Food Sustainability Hackathon

FOOD HACKWe’ve all been there: wincing with guilt whilst scraping leftovers off dinner plates into the bin. Or loading up our basket with buy one get one free fruit and veg bargains, only to find a suspiciously green bag sitting soggy and dejected at the back of the fridge a week or two later. Or enthusiastically over-ordering at our favourite restaurant; having to face the realisation, half way through the meal, that our eyes were, in fact, bigger than our stomachs. Now we have the meat sweats. We’re about to be defeated by the extra sides we ordered or the indignity or undoing the top button of our jeans.

Food wastage is rife. Each year, 1.3bn tonnes of food, about a 1/3 of all that is produced, is wasted globally. On the flip side of food wastage, in the UK, the numbers of people resorting to emergency food supplies from food banks is at a record high. More than 1.1 million people, including 415,866 children, have received emergency food supplies in the past year. This rising trend is primarily driven by the impact of government welfare reform. The efforts of charities and food banks trying to meet the demand are compounded by large supermarkets, like Asda, withdrawing their previous donations amidst cost cutting strategies.

How can we intercept all that food headed for landfill and divert it to those that need it?

SenseFiction Part II was a 1-day mini-hackathon to further develop ideas generated from SenseFiction London in March. A group of social enterprise enthusiasts got busy evolving 2 design challenges to impact behaviour change around food sustainability.

Design challenge 1 – Too Good To Go

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Too Good To Go is an app devised to tackle food wastage and poverty. Its objective is to make food surplus that restaurants, cafes and bakeries would otherwise throw away, available for buy at significantly reduced prices at the end of the trading day.

Users can search for food outlets in their local area and receive alerts when food will be available to pick up at the reduced price. Not only will users get low-cost meals but TGTG also donates food to the homeless.

During the mini hack we were joined by UK lead, Jamie Crummie, who shared some challenges around launching the app for widespread adoption throughout the UK cities:

Questions we worked through were:

  1. How to reach out to key target audiences.

Persona identities were created to come up with an effective communications campaign online and offline.

  1. How to recruit new restaurants into the network.

We identified it was essential to get clear on the benefits food outlets would gain by participating in the scheme. It was also important to support them streamline their internal communication, enabling orders and collections of surplus food to go smoothly.

  1. What features to include on the app to make the user experience seamless.

This required plotting out the customer journey from app discovery to that first order. It was important to get clear about the steps the user would follow and the mindset they would be in when trying access low-cost food. How could the process be made as simple and quick as possible?

 Design Challenge 2 – BCause

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From farm to fork, food sustainability covers everything from; making healthy, nutritious food accessible through fair distribution; treating all producers and employees within the supply chain fairly; ensuring animals and the environment within the food chain are treated ethically to being sensitive to the cultural and diversity needs of different communities, urban and rural.

As well as tackling key issues like food wastage, the second design challenge at the SenseFiction Part II looked at the wider ecosystem. How can we effectively support the growing network of social enterprise food businesses within local communities?

Bcause is an app concept that aims to put a spotlight on social enterprise cafes and restaurants enabling consumers to experience, enjoy and financially support ethical approaches to business within their local area. It was inspired by the realisation that often, people are unaware of the alternatives to mainstream chains within their local communities; the high-quality food, and customer service they can enjoy there and of course the long-term benefits these organisations provide in response to local community social impact issues.

Outcomes from this challenge were:

  • The development of two persona types with different motivations for using the app.

How would we design a communications plan to engage an early adopter, social enterprise enthusiast versus engaging someone with little knowledge and awareness of the benefits of visiting alternatives to mainstream chains?

  • We had an insights and ideas sharing Skype session with fellow MakeSenser Marle Mot who had previously, independently been exploring similar ideas over in Berlin.
  • We were able to create draft wireframes for what the BCause app user experience could look like based on needs and gains of users e.g. reviews of restaurants and cafes, google maps search integration, details of what their social enterprise activities involve.

Key takeaways:

On both design challenges, creating an empathy map was an invaluable tool to get into the heads and hearts of target users. Our insights revealed that while users may enjoy the halo effect of positively engaging in social enterprise activities; quality, price and seamless user experience remain fundamental motivating factors behind behaviour change.

Learn more about Too Good To Go or join the community that will bring the BCause app to life.

Belinda Boakye Guest Author – Belinda Boakye contributed this post on behalf of CulturalAgencyCollective.com.  Belinda is the founder & business consultant at Cultural Agency Collective, supporting social impact & creative projects/organisations with income generation, marketing & business planning.

Photo Credit: Gianpietro Pucciariello

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