412 Food Rescue

Health and Wellness

We work with 412 Food Rescue to research how we can build a resilient system to that best supports those who are experiencing food apartheid. We are currently focusing on developing 412 Food Rescue’s Cooking Education program that provides people in need with easy recipes and ingredients for daily meals.


Team Lead: Catherine Liu
Other Members: Julianna Bolivar, Tasnim Rida, Aisha Drisdom, Lauren Chin, Kaitlyn Chow, Nicole Xiang

Community Partner


412 Food Rescue

Fall 2021-Spring 2022

Human-Centered Design Process


define target problem spaces

How Can We's that define problem spaces to research

  • How can we improve the charitable food sector to better support individuals?
  • How can we help people to be able to sustain themselves outside of charitable support?
  • How can we change the stigma and shame of receiving community support?
  • How can we make fresh produce more accessible?
  • How can we identify neighborhoods in need of assistance?
  • How can we reduce the food waste of restaurants?

Initial knowledge and assumptions

Facts & Stats

  • US restaurants generate an estimated 22 to 33 billion pounds of food waste each year.
  • About 23.5 million people live in food deserts. Nearly half of them are also low-income
  • It may be hard to reach the people who need the food
  • Restaurants will be more willing to work with us if we take care of all of the logistics (they will be more likely to agree if it’s hassle free)
  • People could be resistant to taking action in response to our efforts
  • May not have enough supply for demand
  • Restaurants may be unwilling to give out leftovers
  • What funding is available?
  • How would food be delivered to people?
  • How do we reach out to those who need and who would help with these services?
  • What is the scope (location) of outreach?
  • How do we destigmatize reaching out?
  • How do we prioritize neighborhoods who are in most need?
Personal Experiences
  • Friend worked at a restaurant and every night they threw out a ton of bread
  • CMU dining is required to throw out leftovers every night
  • Food pantries/soup kitchens
  • Community leaders
  • Community centers
  • CMU dining services
  • Local Restaurants
  • Local Schools to send food to
Early Solutions
  • Go to currently known low income neighborhoods and spread knowledge about 412 food rescue.
  • Social Media
  • Flyers
  • Community centers
  • Get in contact with community leaders
  • Need to find out from restaurants what their worries will be and figure out how we can work around it


understand your problem spaces

Empathize with stakeholders through personas or stories

Name: Jonathan

  • Demographics: young child with severe allergies (tree nuts, eggs, shellfish, yeast)
  • Context: is too young to make or get food for himself, has a strict diet he needs to adhere to due to his allergies and therefore his parents struggle with finding foods to buy and what recipes to make for him
  • Motivations: Needs to eat in order to do well in school and needs a way to bring food to school
  • What they do: Jonathan is going to elementary school and needs food that he can eat at home and have enough to bring to school
  • What influences them: Jonathan is restricted in what he can eat due to his allergies. Finding foods that are safe to eat is a struggle for him.
  • Overall goal: His goal is to be able to eat foods that he is not allergic to.
  • Pain points: Is unable to eat a lot of food that is affordable to his family because of the ingredients. He is also unable to eat the free lunch at school because of his food restrictions.
  • How they feel: He is sad that he can’t eat a lot of the foods his friends enjoy and has to find alternatives, his parents struggle with making new recipes so he gets easily bored of the meals he eats over and over again.

Name: Lacy
  • Demographics: young college students
  • Context: Does not know she is food insecure and always makes ramen because she doesn’t know how to cook healthy foods
  • Motivations: Needs to stay healthy to do well in college
  • What they do: Lacy is trying to get her degree at CMU rip
  • What influences them: Other students may influence Lacy from getting help (stigma around receiving help and food insecurity). Also, lack of resources influences whether or not Lacy knows where she can get food.
  • Overall goal: To stay healthy while pursuing her studies
  • Pain points: On top of her studies, Lacy is feeling stressed because she doesn’t know where to get help. Also, Lacy may feel embarrassed to get help.
  • How they feel: Lacy is stressed by the expenses of groceries as well as having to eat out often because she doesn’t know many recipes/doesn’t have the time to make her meals at home

Key insights from additional research

Meeting with community partner

  • Gather data on those who use their services
  • Help people understand food insecurity and that they may be food insecure themselves.
  • Wants to improve cooking education
412 Website
  • They give food to nonprofit partners/organizations and not to the people themselves. Most outreach is done through their partners and the name 412 has already been built for itself.
Meeting with users
  • 412 told us that they donate to nonprofits (Meals on Wheels, Local Churches, Salvation Army) so they don't know the real individual demographic they reach, but they reach a wide range of people


define your goals and determine your impact

Narrowed down How Can We's to ideate for

  • How can we identify the people 412 Food Rescue is helping?
  • How can we spread awareness and improve cooking education?


generate a variety of solutions for meaningful change

Sketches and process

Top Solutions

  • Make the program more easily accessible remotely
  • Have packaged ingredients ready to be picked up or delivered so people can make the meals at home (partner with Giant Eagle to help package ingredients)
  • Set up a Q&A page about their program and a way to submit questions online about their recipes
  • Along with recipes, recommend brands and stores to be able to get affordable ingredients; have a discount code with a store they collab with (Giant Eagle)
  • Increase social media presence
  • Use Instagram to help increase awareness of program
  • Could have a TikTok, food TikToks are pretty popular and they’d easily reach a wider audience
  • Use Facebook; post videos, make a Facebook group, do livestreams
  • Have more energy in their videos, extend volunteer network to youths who can help manage social media
  • Have a regular posting schedule
  • Increase meal variety to include more cultures
  • Make written recipes easily accessible online
  • The recipes are gone over verbally but the measurements aren’t written out, and there’s no written summary of the recipes


make your ideas into tangible projects

Final prototype

The solution we chose with 412 Food Rescue was to:

  • Focus on re-understanding the target audience for cooking education program
  • Create a survey to send to people and community partners to understand their needs and wants
We would be looking at:
  • Why are people hungry? Community-led solution: food apartheid instead of a food desert.
  • What are we attempting to answer, and is cooking education the best way to frame it?
  • Food Sovereignty instead of education.
412 Food Rescue wants to focus on:
  • providing space, food and any other infrastructure.
  • Offering institutional expertise, specific knowledge, bridge building but no infrastructure.
Possible Survey Questions
  • What are you eating, how often?
  • If you had access to fresh vegetables, how would that change your approach to meals/would you use it?
  • How much time a week do you spend preparing for yourself?
  • How many dine-out/ take out do you prepare?
  • Is convenience a priority when making food decisions? What has been your favorite meal in the last month, week/month,/year?
Possible Programs
  • Making a meal out of a convenience store.
  • Signing up for a food pantry, or other resources as a part of education.
  • Methods: cooking for the week on Sunday, basic home economics.