Pantry Parter is a collaborative project made with the complex issue of food insecurity in Northwest Arkansas in mind. In partnership with Full Circle Food Pantry, we designed an intervention that would help connect local food pantries with donors.

After researching this complex system and meeting with the staff of the Full Circle Food Pantry at the University of Arkansas, we came together as a group and decided on some initial areas of interest:

+options for NWA residents who are food insecure

+community involvement to support food pantries

+support for food pantry clients after the leave the UofA

+budgeting tips and tools

+practical information to help avoid food

Our next step was to look at case studies and research what was already out there, to help inform our project.

We then conducted primary research that helped us better understand our audience and design prototype.

We then created our own first prototypes to solve the design problem.

Next step was to create the final designed prototype.

What happens after the food is donated and recieved by the donation center?

Once the food that has been donated has been delivered to the food bank and is in their system, a notification pops up on the user’s phone saying that their donation has been accepted. This personal message will make the user more inclined to donate again because they can see that it was actually put to a good use. Having this positive interaction from the app to the donation center and to the food pantry will entice the user to share their experience with their friends and other people in the community.

How does this effect users directly?

This designed intervention creates a more efficient system for food pantries to collect and process donations. Because items are being directly transported from the stores to their shelves, and being scanned into their system as it gets to their pantry, no time is wasted doing that at the actual pantry.

Another impact of Pantry Partner is that more people will be donating to their local food panties. With the convenient location and accessibility to the donation centers donors do not have to go out of their way to donate items, instead it is there at the store with them.

Pantry Partner also helps with the problem of over and under stocking of specific items. There may be a time when a food pantry has a lot of one item and more of that same donation would take up much needed room, but with our intervention this would not happen.

How does this effect users indirectly?

Having a donation center out in the open makes it a thought in the front of the minds of those who see it in their communities. It will make those who pass it on their way into the store contemplate donating on their way out.

Pantry Partner is all about making connections. It doesn’t stop at food pantry and donor. Our hope is that when a donor has a positive experience with Pantry Partner they will go and tell their communities, families, and friends. Gradually, this creates a huge network of aid for all food panties in the area.

Another indirect impact that Pantry Partner has is that its food panties now have a huge support system that they can call on in times of need.

This project has taught me a lot about what it means to shift a project to meet the needs of the user. When we started, we were set on helping people transitioning out of the Full Circle Food Pantry. We shortly after shifted our sights on a few different audiences: food-insecure people, donors, and grocery stores. This helped us specify our exact problem, while being able to focus on everyone the food pantry impacts. It was really cool to research other case studies and find out about what exists in the world already that works towards fixing the problem: a lack of awareness or information about what food insecure means and how donors can help. We decided to implement a solution somewhere that affects more than just people at the U of A, which helps get the word of the food pantry out on a broader spectrum.

By creating a designed prototype that lives in a public space both the Full Circle Food Pantry and the issue of food insecurity can be better brought to light in a local way. On top of that, we were able to examine how food insecurity functions in today’s climate: a pandemic. With the implementation of our design prototype and food insecurity donation bank, people would be able to access food pantries in a sanitary way without having to interact with any staff. By pairing up with grocery stores, who are fighting the pandemic in their own way, the food pantry will adapt to the current climate with them, and with the most frequented public space in this moment.