Rice Design for America
Design Innovation for Social Good
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Houston Food Security

Houston Food Security (aka "feedthekids")


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Who are we?

David Moon - wears fresh gold chains

Claire Peng - likes wearing a DOPE maroon Martel sweatshirt

Jake Peacock - all around baller

Cesar Soto - dank at soccer

Molly Reilly - has a dope water bottle

Maddie Bowen - lively and dope at notes

Food Insecurity is a major issue in the world! OMG maybe people shouldn’t waste as much food.

We looked into the problem and discovered an organization that works with the Houston Food Bank that is taking action to assist families in creating healthy eating habits.  This organization is Brighter Bites.


We gained many of our insights from preexisting research completed by past Brighter Bites interns.  These research papers contained an abundance of data concerning Brighter Bites’ users’ eating and cooking preferences, kitchen environment, and overall opinions of their time with Brighter Bites.

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Current Cooking Culture

Outside of the produce that Brighter Bites gives the families, families usually have most of the ingredients needed to cook substantial healthy meals, including olive oil, grains, eggs, and beans.

Also, as can be seen from the statistics in Picture A, most households have the necessary kitchen appliances (e.g. stove, microwave, cutting board). However, a significant number of families do not have measuring spoons and cups, which tend to be heavily relied on in recipes. In addition, few families cook from any type of cookbook.

Desired Cooking Culture

Ultimately, respondents felt it was their responsibility to continue their healthy eating habits after the Brighter Bites program ended. 

Users requested alternative healthier versions of meals they cooked for their families, such as mac & cheese, lasagna, and tacos. They also desired more recipes for vegetables they were unfamiliar with, such as squash, zucchini, and eggplants.

Users also had interesting ideas for innovative recipes.  Many requested “build-a-blank” recipes: recipes with a general structure but interchangeable ingredients, such as a stir-fry, smoothie, or salad.  Another idea was “no-cook” recipes: recipes that require only preparation and no cooking.

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How can we enable Brighter Bites families to expand their healthy meal preparation options within their current cooking culture?

Measures of Success

In order to measure the effectiveness of our solutions, we created many measures that would indicate our success in addressing our HCW statement. The measures that directly deal with the families activities include:

  • The family cooks 5 meals a week

  • The family visits a grocery store on a regular basis and intends to purchase produce

  • The family remains below their budget when shopping

The measures of success regarding the actual components of the solution include:

  • Food preparation is simple enough for a child

  • Meals only require common kitchen technologies

  • Ingredients are predicated on a family’s cooking culture

Design Goals

The following are goals we intend to keep in mind as we ideate within our HCW’s focus. The ideas and prototypes that we create should reflect the requirements listed here:

  • Accessible → easy and inexpensive to understand, implement and repeat

  • Efficient → requires less effort than normal routine

  • Curated → carefully selected and refined information relevant to our users

  • Dynamic and Flexible → available in many formats and easily edited based on feedback

  • Beautiful → Pleasant to have within a home

Prototype I

The following are prototypes we've created for our first testing session:

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Key Takeaways from Testing Session I

  • We should organize information functionally; these one pagers need to have a function/goal
  • The one-pagers need to accomplish more than just providing information; they need to be instructions or a guide
  • Pictures are helpful, as long as they are labeled
  • We can make a lot of prototypes with different formats, BB supplies a significant amount of the content
  • We can pursue interactivity and extensibility
  • We can test in different environments

Prototype II

The following are prototypes we've created for our second testing session:

sectioned grocery list

Key Takeaways from Testing Session II

  • Users who said they would use the shopping cards were users who already make shopping lists
  • The habit that we are focusing on is buying produce, not creating shopping lists
  • Therefore, our goal should be to encourage users to shop with intention (making at least mental shopping lists) rather than to encourage users to create physical shopping lists

Prototype III

The following are prototypes we've created for our third testing session:

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Key Takeaways from Testing Session III

  • Overall goal: To help value shoppers shop with the intention of buying produce by formulating either mental or physical shopping lists
  • Users would like tips on how to cook these vegetables, especially if they are unfamiliar
  • Some users buy whatever is cheap at the store but don't know which fruits or vegetables are in season
  • Some users aren't sure if their children will eat the food that they buy
  • Most users worry about budget (at least sometimes)
  • Quotes
    • “This (pairing card) would help me make a list before going shopping.” - Brighter Bites participant, Value Shopper
    • “I us ually buy whatever is cheap at the store.” - Brighter Bites participant, Value Shopper
  • Potential improvements
    • Make a child-friendly version of this prototype with pictures to encourage children to look over the options too
    • Switch the produce words on the card to icons and then have a key for the icons on the back of the card, along with tips on how to prepare the respective produce (would need to have a large gap on the back of the slider to be able to see this information)
    • Conduct more research into which combinations work

Final Prototype

SPAM Expo in Austin, Minnesota (April 23-24)

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