Redesign of website and system for campus food bank - Maize and Blue Cupboard (MBC), closing the gap between campus food insecurities and food waste, and providing an applicable model for on-campus food banks. 
Researcher, UX Designer
Project Partner
Maize and Blue Cupboard - UofM campus food bank
Service Design | UX Design
DEI, Food insecurity, Community, volunteer management
01 Overview
The University of Michigan's campus food bank - Maize and Blue Cupboard (MBC) conducted research revealing that 30% of their students experience food insecurity, and significant food waste is generated on campus. After conducting interviews with current volunteers, users, and staff, we identified challenges facing MBC.

Identified key problems:
These challenges include staff feeling overwhelmed with the workload, long wait times for shoppers, concerns about the freshness of food, and a lack of adequate volunteer training.

Redesign MBC website, adding functions of:
1. Food map showcasing food resources on campus
2. Enhance transparency of available resources provided in the food bank
3. Volunteer onboarding and training information
02 Approach
Understanding the problem landscape and mapping out resources
The MBC operates mainly on donation and volunteers, making it an interesting landscape, while there are more than one user on the current platform. The managing team (which is only a few staffs) would need to operate the food bank, ensure shopper experiences, and train volunteers who come and go. 
We started by interviewing 3 groups of users: Staff, volunteers, and shoppers. And quickly realized the complexity of the problem. 
Since the staff and volunteers work were closely connected to donations of resources, I decided to look into the current food donation system, map where resources come from, and where there might be gaps. 
How might we create an ideal model for a campus food bank to also address food waste, while overcoming challenges such as staffing issues?
Current donating systems are missing out opportunities on campus
Having the problem of food insecurity and also campus food waste in mind, we set up a new donation system that can reduce food waste and ease the burden on MBC staff and volunteers. This includes surplus food from on-campus events and donations between individuals. Directly providing these resources to shoppers ensures freshness and reduces the workload for MBC staff.
Service design decision: Build system on current MBC website
The MBC has been established for 9 years, from our interviews, we learned that different groups of users still use the website, whether it is to find the gateway in booking volunteering slots, or if users need to look up opening hours and locations. 
We decided to build on the MBC's current website, and update the information architecture. Adding additional functions like a live food and resource map, and volunteer onboarding manual. 
Resource food map: matching food needs between individuals
Food banks have limitations such as a fixed physical location, and operating hours. To make services more accessible, but also not creating more work for staff and volunteers, we designed a platform where users in the community can find resources provided by other individuals or programs that are near them on a map. For example, if there is a campus event with leftover sandwiches, users can get food information without traveling to the campus food bank. 
Volunteer onboarding handbook 
One pain point for both MBC staff and volunteers, were the confusion on volunteer onboarding. Due to the limited time and resources, many volunteers do not know what to expect, and will be assigned to tasks right on the spot. Providing a handbook will give the volunteers an overview of what tasks there might be. The handbook can also serve as a reference, if volunteers need to look and make sure what needs to be done at the MBC. 
I am honored to share that our team won first prize for the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion award from the 2023 UMSI Exposition!

It is extremely humbling, as there were so many great projects at the Exposition. I have always believed that we can use design to better the world, and I feel one step closer every time I finish a meaningful project.

Thanks to my team, professor Lija Hogan, MBC staff, and all our interviewees.

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