design thinking initiatives for a better urban life
Hunger is one of the greatest pressing global issue today; Unlike famines that receive emergency-aid, chronic hunger affects 842 million people to suffer from a silent, yet invisible predicament on a daily basis. Although America is known as the land of plenty, 1 in 6 Americans in the United States struggle with hunger. Many people believe that the problems associated with hunger are confined to small pockets of society, certain areas of the country, or certain neighborhoods, but the reality is much different; many hard-working adults, children and seniors who simply cannot always make ends meet are forced to go without food.
On a local scale, The Oregon Food Bank along with their network of food pantries are the only mediators in solving hunger in Oregon as well as Southwest Washington. It was an enlightening experience speaking with the Director of Operations John Kolsterman at the Oregon Food Bank to identify problems with the current system; Although the Oregon Food Bank offers great aid to those in need, it is still faces a variety of problems. Some of which are food freshness, food contamination, waste management and disposal. The biggest problem that they currently face is with logistics; Fresh produce must be delivered to its 270,000 clients within 15 days and the Oregon Food Bank’s goal is to reduce it in half (less than a week).
The Sustainable Economic Entrepreneurship Development (SEED) program is a membership-enabled community supported agriculture program that allows members to contribute to the Oregon Food Bank while providing a platform for growers, resellers and consumers to connect and transact. SEED farming utilizes unused/underused plots of land to grow highly nutritious vegetables, turning water intensive lawns and backyards as well as community gardens into productive grow plots. Members sign up before the season begins in January through March and receive their SEED packages as a part of the membership. The Oregon Food Bank will grow seedlings and distribute them to their partnering agencies. Members will then pick up their Seedlings, SEED starter planter box, SEED grow materials and take them back to their backyards to be assembled and planted. This reduces the space necessary by the Oregon Food Bank to grow seedlings into ripe vegetables. The incentives for such a concept can be justified through both intrinsic and extrinsic value to the growers such as increasing property value, improving communal ties and awareness, as well as tax breaks and monetary benefits while encouraging and supporting sustainable farming practices on a smaller scale. SEED farming can be suitably scaled through various grow plot options; Many of which are low-cost, high productivity forms of growing highly nutritious, healthy vegetables for both Oregon Food Banks clients and the growers.