Eat.Think.Design. kicked off Spring 2015 with a design challenge from Alameda County’s All In to End Hunger by 2020 campaign. Sixty graduate students formed 10 teams to examine the barriers that people face in enrolling in CalFresh (EBT, aka food stamps) in Alameda County. The teams each addressed one of three questions:
- How could we attract people who are eligible but not participating in CalFresh to enroll in the program?
- How might we creatively engage community to achieve full participation in CalFresh
- How should CalFresh be redesigned in order to achieve maximum effectiveness?
Inspiration for the challenge came from a household that purchased groceries using CalFresh at FoodsCo in East Oakland. Students were provided with access to the receipt and to the groceries themselves. The teaching team purchased all the items on the receipt from FoodsCo and brought them into the classroom. The teams only had two hours in which to address the challenge.
From 60 applicants to course that day, 25 were admitted. These students represent 15 graduate programs from the Haas School of Business, the iSchool, Journalism, the College of Engineering, and the School of Public Health.
The admitted students continued their work on the CalFresh challenge in Weeks 2-3. A new configuration of six teams addressed the question, “How might we increase CalFresh participation among the eligible unenrolled in Alameda County?” Students used sticky note brainstorming, rapid ethnography, EBT data, and maps to pitch their solutions to the class. In total, students conducted in-person, physical ethnograpy at 31 sites across the Bay Area, shown on this map. Proposed solutions included:
- A mobile CalFresh truck for signing up
- CalFresh Ambassador program with community leaders
- Create a point system that provides points for purchasing healthy food options
These suggestions are being integrated into the work of the All In Campaign.