Video by Andres Munoz & Christian Suarez

Academic Project
Role: Project Manager, User Research & Interview, UX Design, Concept Design, User Testing
Year: Fall 2021
Team: Mathias Moslehi, Christian Suarez, Andres Munoz

LA Regional Food Bank Market App
A mobile application that gives Los Angeles food bank recipients the ability to order and pick up a personalized food box.
Through our conversations with the staff at the Los Angeles Regional Food bank we discovered that they struggle with determining what their recipients need. In turn, recipients do not have a choice when it comes to selecting food items.
During our interviews we discovered that food bank recipients have dietary restrictions and can't consume many of the products that come in a prepackaged box. We also learned that the biggest problem for the LARFB is figuring out what food products their recipients want or need. 
The LARFB Market App is a mobile application that lets recipients customize their own box by selecting from available products. Recipients register on the app, select their items, choose a pick up location, place their order and then use a QR code to pick up their box. 

Design Challenge

How might we create a tool for the LARFB to help them streamline and improve their acquisition system; while at the same time addressing needs of the community and reducing food waste?

Our Approach
We wanted to understand what the community needed the most, so we conducted field research and observations to pin point where the issues were happening. We performed interviews to understand what we could do to help the recipients and also searched for existing solutions to help guide our ideas.
Our Users
This is Loraine. She was recently laid off and needs food assistance. From our interview with her we learned that the products she received from the food bank weren’t tailored to her dietary needs. Often the food box she received was too heavy for her to carry. Because of these pain points she would throw out or give away a lot of what she couldn’t eat.
"Half the food I receive goes in the trash. I'm allergic to gluten, dairy, eggs [...] but I still need help with other stuff."
This is Jeanna, the Chief Product Acquisition Officer for the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. Her role is to secure food products from local and federal sources. In our interview she  expressed that it was difficult to understand what products the community really wanted. She also expressed the lack of manpower many facilities face.
"The most difficult part of my job is to determine what the people want or need.
[...] I usually ask for product recommendations from my colleagues or other managers in the operations team."
User's Needs
In order to solve this problem, we created user personas and user journey maps for Loraine and Jeanna. These personas and maps helped us visualize and understand the obstacles they face when ordering and picking up products. 
Some of the insights we gained from these maps are:
There isn't enough manpower to oversee a physical market for recipients.
How do we survey what people actually want?
How do we make it easy for recipients to pick up their items?​​​​​​​
These insights led us to create a mobile application that would let users select products from a market.
Because we didn’t have a product in our particular market to use for reference, we looked at mobile applications like amazon fresh and instacart to gain an understanding of how users select and pickup their items. 

1. What needs to be included in this app? 
As a team, we decided that the key point of this app was to make it easy for recipients to register, select a pickup date and location and select products. We tried to limit the steps needed to achieve this. 
2. What data is collected?
From our research and interviews we discovered that many recipients liked to maintain anonymity therefore we kept the registration prompts to just include username, password, zip code and household size. This data along with product selections would be recorded and used by the LARFB. 
3. Product selection
We looked at various grocery applications and modeled our selection process after them. We wanted to keep the options and amounts clear. We also wanted to have a confirmation screen so our users can make last minute changes. 

Sketches by Mathias Moslehi
Testing Insights
In order to test our app we created low-fidelity wireframes through Figma. Our focus was to test registration, navigation, product selection, pickup date/time and confirmation. We reached out to several users and non users through Zoom to navigate our product and give us feedback.

Wireframes designed by all team members

From our user testing we gained valuable insights and based our iterations on them. 
Key insights discovered:
1. Unclear that product categories can be browsed left to right
2. Box weight is important for users without cars
3. Icons in navigation are hard to understand
4. Onboarding screens would be helpful
5. QR code is a good idea
Our Solution
Using insights from our user testing we created a live high fidelity version of our app through Figma. We again performed additional testing and made changes based on the feedback. We also paid close attention to the the prompts of the registration process and built static screens. Additionally, we added onboarding screens, changed the navigation icons to be more unique to our app, dealigned the products to imply left - right scrolling, improved the date selection and added product weight as well as the total box weight. Our final solution is an app that is tailored to the look and feel of the LARFB and addresses the need of our users.

Initially our team started out trying to tackle food waste in the food retail sector. We interviewed several grocery store owners and discovered that many retailers were already trying to reduce food waste by partnering with their local food banks. This discovery led us to reach out to the LARFB in search for what they may need help with. Through our interviews we got our "aha" moment and quickly pivoted our project to helping them. Getting to that point took a lot of team meetings, research and synthesizing, all of which taught me to value the design process. Furthermore I learned take myself out of the equation and focus on designing for our demographic. 
I am truly proud of this project and especially proud of my team members, we put in a lot of hours through Zoom. They are a very talented and committed team, we learned a lot from each other and learned a lot about our work ethic.   
I wish to continue pursuing this project further and present it to the LARFB stakeholders and get their input. I especially look forward to actually implementing this app as it could benefit a lot of people. 

You may also like

Back to Top