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University Nutritious Meal Program 

-Service Design-

OVERVIEW

The objective of this project was to observe the nutritional service offered at Pratt Institute: Brooklyn campus, targeting the various stakeholders, identifying the pain points and easing the workflow and experience.

QUICK GLIMPSE OF THE SOLUTION

We designed a mobile app that aimed to encourage nutritious eating among students and also facilitated them to procure meals before class. Additionally, we have worked on emotional design to enhance the backend staff experience.

Duration

2 months

My Role

User Research, Observational Studies, Service Blueprint Designing Co-creation workshops, Rapid prototyping, StoryBoarding, UI Mockups, Prototyping

Type

Academic

Owners

Akshata Karekar, Me

METHODOLOGY

Sprint 1
  1. Secondary research

  2. Onsite Observations

  3. Benchmarking

  4. Concept Generation

  5. Blueprinting

Sprint 3
  1. Concept Iteration

  2. Technology Implementation

  3. User Validation

  4. UX/UI Design

  5. Prototyping and Demo

Sprint 2
  1. Secondary Research

  2. Interviews

  3. Concept Exploration

  4. Paper Prototyping

  5. User Testing

To start off the project we defined the problem in a 'How might we" statement to give a broad perspective of the problem at hand.

"How might we improve the meal service at the Pratt cafeteria meal program to ensure that it caters to users' needs for accessibility, nutrition, and sustainability?"

1. Research

Identifying the Stakeholders

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The main stakeholders that were identified were Students who are using the service, Parents/Guardians who are paying for the service, the food service staff who are at the campus, the food service providers, and the teachers or staff who are also in access to the food service. 

Understanding the problem

Stakeholder: Students

To understand the problems and pain points, first, we had to understand the functioning of the service. We started this by doing some secondary research on other university meal programs and their offerings, doing site visits for observations, and also interviewing 2 students from the Pratt Brooklyn campus.  

Doing this allowed us to have a comparison of the offerings at Pratt vs. other food services as well as the ones offered by Universities. 

With our secondary and primary research in place, we were able to understand the functioning of the service and identify the painpoints that the students faced within the process of collecting food

Mapping of the Service Area

Fig 1. Service flow

By mapping out the area, we could understand exactly how the students would be passing through the area and navigating with the assisted labeling offered. This gave us a better understanding of where the labeling was most effective and where it was lacking. We also observed the interaction between the cashier, servers, and the students. 

We noticed that there was a lack of information regarding the allergens, the price of the food offered (whether it was Pratt Points or Meal swipes for the snacks offered and the absence of trays which made the students balance their items in their hands during the checkout process. 

User Journey

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Fig 2. User Journey

With the user journey, we were able to identify the pain points that the students were facing with the process of acquiring a meal. This aided us in finding opportunities within the service to make changes for a better experience. 

2. Reflection

KEY INSIGHTS

Transparency
Convenience

From conducting our interviews, observations, and user journey, we were able to deduce the following insights. 

Students like transparency about what is been offered at the cafeteria, payment options for items, and quality of food.

Students would be happier if they had ways to pre-order food, or reserve a box during times they are not able to dine in.

Stake

Soliciting feedback from students on menu items and preferences can help ensure that the meal program is meeting their needs and desires.

Involvement

Students mentioned that being able to work at the cafes would create a better community (while they earn).

Stakeholder Shift

Students

Service Provider

For the next step, we shifted our focus from the students to another set of stakeholders, which were the service providers. 

We were able to virtually interview Jenifer Hamilton (Resident Director) and Samantha Yunko (District Registered Dietitian) from AVI Fresh to understand the functioning of the service, the decisions made and any concerns or problems faced within the system. This gave us a deeper understanding of how the service functions from the service provider's point of view vs. the consumer's point of view that we previously had. 

KEY INSIGHTS

From conducting our interview with Jennifer and Samantha, we also interviewed the servers who are working at Pratt. From these interviews, we deduced the following insights:

Limited Vegan/Vegetarian

Students and staff both mention that lack of vegan/gluten-free and vegetarian options in the dining meal options. A meal service plan should aim to provide equal or comparable options for both vegetarian and non-vegetarian students.

Endorsing Healthy Options

Highlighting nutrition and indicating the items that are the healthier choice. Also implementing the corporate strategy of placing healthier foods at eye level.

“Things go in deaf ears”

Students would be happier to file in complains about the food they are eating, and that service is more publicized than hidden. Staff would also like a way to convey the reaction they receive from students.

Break - Working hours

The staff have to stand through their entire working hours and are only able to sit during their break. Some of the staff opt to take a walk during their break, which is exercise without a rest.

3. Ideation

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Fig 3. Idea Generation

Storyboarding

Customer

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Server

Concept 1: 

Labelling System

A labeling system throughout the cafe that indicates what ingredient it is, along with a traffic light system of how nutritious it is so that students can make a choice. Allow for more options for recipes.

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Refining the concept

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  • Clearly labeled system with a list of ingredients mentioned on it.
    Benefits: it is better to know which meats and the type of ingredients are in the dish​​

  • Allows for easy labeling of the common allergens present in the dish, for example gluten, peanuts etc. 

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Concept 2: 

Real time Update

An app that informs students to learn what items are offered at the dining hall, with ways to preorder, submit feedback, upvote for their favorite item and manage their Pratt points and swipes.

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Refining the concept

  • Clearly labeled system with a list of ingredients mentioned on it.
    Benefits: it is better to know which meats and the type of ingredients are in the dish​​

  • Allows for easy labeling of the common allergens present in the dish, for example gluten, peanuts etc. 

  • Easy checkout of food, allowing students to pick up food during tight schedules, avoiding standing in lines. 

  • The student is able to select the date and time they want to pick up the food, allowing for more customization and convenience.

Emotional Design: 

  • We incorporated a 'Thank You' Feature within the app to boost the backend staffs mood and 

Back-end Operations:

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  • The staff is able to see the order placed and the time that it would be picked up

  • The staff at the pick-up counter scans the QR Code from the student's account and is able to mark it as 'collected' 

  • Thanks received are also viewed from the backend to bring in the aspect of appreciation to the service providers. 

Thank You!

If you are interested in learning more about the project, explore it here!

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