The DFS Mobile App – Foodscape
The Foodscape Story
The Office of Sustainability at Davidson College tasked 7 interns with creating a mobile app to connect food and sustainability in the Davidson community.
When we started at the end of May, the 7 of us hardly knew each other, and certainly had no clue what we would accomplish by the end of the summer. All we knew was:
- We needed to have a finished app at the end of the summer
- The topic was food sustainability
- The app needed to:
- Collect information
- Disseminate information
- Create a community of users
And that’s where we started.
During the first week we immersed ourselves in the local sustainable food world by volunteering at farms, interviewing chefs, and lending a helping hand at the local Farmer’s Market. Following this intense week, we began our 2-week programming “boot camp” with Tech Talent South that served as a crash course in everything we needed to know about how to program an app in both iOS and Android platforms.
Throughout this entire time, using the design thinking process, ideas about a potential app flowed. We thought of games, educational consumer guides, targeted chat forums, tip generators, volunteer coordinator apps, and so many more. Who did we want to target? Why would people use an app? How do we share food sustainability information? It always seemed that there were more questions than answers.
Several days and even more whiteboards later, we settled on the concept of Foodscape. With Foodscape, users create personalized menus with restaurant’s interactive menus, indicate if they like or dislike a dish, and receive sustainability information about restaurants and each dish on the menu via sustainability icons. Restaurants receive the like and dislike information about their dish items and can use this data to tailor their menus to their target consumer base.
Foodscape serves as a voice for consumers, which is a particularly beneficial feature for Davidson College students who have meal plans and eat at the college’s dining establishments. We also hope that sharing sustainability information about restaurants and dishes will stimulate users to think about where their food comes from, the ethics of how it was grown and how it was prepared. Today’s society is afflicted with many food issues, and all of us still have more to learn about the story behind our food. It’s time to reconnect with our food.
In order to provide sustainability information to users in a friendly manner, the Foodscape team settled on making icons, that visually highlight good practices of local restaurants. We created 19 unique icons that are awarded at the restaurant level, dish level or both. The restaurant level icons display sustainable practices unrelated to food preparation, such as composting, using Energy Star appliances, and donating to charities. Dish level icons provide more insight to the story behind the food, such as if the ingredients were locally grown. While the triple bottom line encompasses people, planet, and profit, we chose to focus our educational component on the people and planet aspect because these components receive less consideration that economics when running a business.
Foodscape team members met with restaurant owners throughout the summer and established lasting relationships in order to work towards the mutual goal of increasing food sustainability awareness. From these meetings, we gathered all the self-reported data shown in the restaurant profiles. From the beginning, we were met with nothing but positivity and encouragement. Everyone we talked to brought forth new ideas that we never considered but were often incorporated into the design.
We categorized the icons into 4 groups: Environmental, Social, Eco-Labels, and Nutritional.