Food for good: how to feed America with what we already have.

By Andrew Mikofalvy, Julia Appel, Kalki Seksaria and Kenneth Friedman

The New Food (Waste & Insecurity) Guide Pyramid

The Problem   The Solution

                    The problem                                      The solution

The data say that 40% of food produced in the US is wasted, while almost 50 million Americans are food insecure to some degree. We wanted to share  Maria’s Story, because it shows the impact that supermarkets, kitchens, restaurants, food banks, and non profit and community organizations can have when they work together to decrease both food insecurity and food wastage.

Our audience is the decision makers of grocery stores at the Massachusetts Food Association (a non-profit association of grocery stores) annual meeting.

Our call to action is that grocery stores donate excess food, and cash, to food banks to help address the insidious problem of food insecurity in America.

To appropriately convey the message to the grocery store representatives attending the meeting, we evaluated the important factors that employees might look at when considering implementing a food donation program at their own store, and then the costs and the benefits of participating in the food donation process.  Costs include monetary and legal barriers to donating food, while benefits include the positive effect on individuals lives and a more positive public perception of the store in question. In addition, many legal worries are alleviated by the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, while the benefits are augmented by tax deductions.

We designed a pyramid shaped business card that resembles the shape and structure of the easily-recognizable food guide graphic: food pyramid. The card is two sided, and is a mockup of a give away that we would distribute to people at the annual MA Food Association conference. The front side expresses problems associated with food insecurity and food waste, and the flipside presents solutions: references to programs that can help alleviate and explain the costs associated with entering the food donation arena. The shape allows us to present the data at several levels: national, state and individual. This image also serces to connect Maria’s story with state and national data on food insecurity, to provide an inspiration to act.

The flipside represents a solution, and provides informational resources for how grocery store owners can help address the problem. It starts with reasons and resources for companies to donate their food to help with food security. It concludes with how community programs and store donations have made Maria better off, thereby closing the loop and finishing the story.

We combined quantitative and qualitative data. We found Maria’s story in the Project Bread 2013 Annual Status Report, and our quantitative data from a variety of sources:

Raising the Minimum Wage: Better Finances, Better Food, and Better Lives

Judy Chang, Iris Fung, Maddie Kim, Eric Lau

The data say that over 580,000 citizens in Massachusetts – equivalent to nearly the entire population of Boston – are making around the minimum wage. We want to tell this story because minimum wage earners need over double that to fully support their families; an increase in the minimum wage is needed by constituents and food aid organizations alike to sustainably reverse hunger.

Project Bread was founded in Massachusetts in 1974. Their anti-hunger efforts now include providing food coupons, running a counseling FoodSource hotline, and supporting school breakfast programs. To augment their efforts to sustainably reverse hunger, Project Bread urges constituents to advocate for legislation to increase the minimum wage. Our audience is voters, both in Massachusetts and nationwide, who might be unaware or unfamiliar of the issue, its scale, and its impact.

Our goals are two-fold: we wish to inform voters and use the power of pathos to compel them to take action and support legislation. We saw the personal story as the perfect vehicle to achieve this. We selected a story from Project Bread’s 2013 Annual Status Report on Hunger about Sam and his girlfriend and daughter, their financial and food insecurity struggles, and Project Bread’s assistance to them. To emphasize the relatable, narrative aspect of Sam’s story, it is told through a video displaying a progression of hand-drawn pictures while Sam is narrating. The viewer can connect to Sam’s struggles through his stream-of-consciousness.

Not only can viewers personally identify and connect with Sam’s story, but they can also absorb key information on the issue and act on it very easily. While the video is playing, key facts and statistics from Project Bread and the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center are shown on the side of the video as Sam introduces them in the video. They remain displayed for easy viewing and visual reinforcement of the video’s message. At the conclusion of the video, a button appears that directs to the signup page for Fight For 15, a political campaign advocating for a higher minimum wage. For viewers, this bridges the gap from understanding the issue at a personal level to acting on what they’ve learned in a positive way.

Watch the video here!