COVID has caused an increase in food insecurity in Indiana citizens- and around the country. Food banks and pantries have adjusted their operations to accommodate this increased demand. They have done this with fewer volunteers because most of their regular volunteers are high-risk and encouraged to stay home.
Red Riding Hood is an app that is designed to streamline the process of food selection and delivery for food pantries. Customers can select specific baskets of food that the pantry has in stock based on their dietary restrictions and select a preferred pick-up time.
Given the current adaptations (training new volunteers, serving more people, etc.) this would be a great time for food pantries to integrate this software. See more about our go-to-market strategy below.
Hannah Cougill (Project Manager, Go Team, Senior Business @ IU Bloomington)
Hannah created a Trello board and ran meetings where everyone agreed on a set of tasks for the week. She created and presented the go-to-market strategy for the team. She worked to put this document together with the rest of the team.
Andrea Wynn (Pro Team, Junior Computer Science & Software Engineering & Math @ Rose-Hulman)
Andrea helped facilitate meetings for the Pro team, including Agile-style planning sessions. She implemented many of the features of the product, including the grocery bag selection page and time & date selection pages for customers, and worked with team members to create and implement technical specifications for the project overall. She also wrote portions of this abstract, in addition to writing and presenting all the technical portions of the final presentation.
Sean O’Donovan (Pro Team, Sophomore Computer Science & Data Science @ Purdue University)
Sean helped connect Firebase and the app, while contributing to much of the app’s business logic. He also helped the other members of the team to familiarize themselves with Android tools and programming conventions. In particular he is proud of the volunteer view.
Joe Lyon (Pro Team, Junior Computer Science & Computer Engineering @ Butler University)
Joe helped plan and develop the structure of the backend data storage. He integrated UI features and designed some of the application’s activities (pages in the app). He also helped debug programs and destress team members with jokes.
How did you decide on this customer segment, problem, and solution?
In discussing which type of non-profits were struggling in a visible way, we came up with food pantries. From our research, we found that food pantries have adapted to COVID in the following ways:
- Created mobile pantries to deliver food to those who could not travel to a regular serving site
- Recruited younger volunteers who would be at less risk than regular older volunteers
- Created pre-packaged bags of food to be handed out in a drive-through
- Gleaners more than doubled the amount of food served in April 2020 than in April 2019
Based on this information, we decided to design an app that would allow people to select the type of food they received while streamlining the delivery process for volunteers. Thus, we created an UberEats-inspired mobile app for food pantries.
We selected a main target market of food pantries supported by Gleaners because this would be a quick way to spread word of the software and get many pantries and users in the Indianapolis area to be early adopters.
How did your team build and iterate on the solution?
Once our team identified a need for food banks to better track, verify, and synchronize orders to handle increasing demand resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, we began to design an app that would help take pressure off food banks and allow them to more efficiently and effectively serve their communities.
The first stage of building the solution was to build a low-fidelity prototype for the app. In the first stages, the design consisted of multiple sketches of various app screens along with descriptions of their purpose and sequence. The Pro team then spent the following week creating a quick and simple prototype with only the most basic features (i.e. no backend database or “real” functionality, just a simple demonstration of the most basic features of the user experience). This initial prototype served as both a proof of concept and a platform that could be used to gather initial feedback from user testing. The team then asked users to test the app by performing certain tasks with it and gathered feedback on usability, how intuitive the design was, and any bugs or issues the testers encountered. The team then collected and prioritized this feedback to create a set of new tasks and bug fixes in response to user feedback while continuing to work on other app features and functionality.
The development process followed by the Pro team is modeled after Agile software development. Each week, the Pro team met to discuss goals for the week and assign mini-tasks to each member of the team to work on during the week. The team had a daily standup meeting as well, where each team member shared their current progress with their tasks and any roadblocks or issues they encountered. The team tracked all tasks through a Trello board, which was structured as a simplified variation of a Jira board used in the software engineering industry.
Throughout the course of the SOS challenge, the Red Riding Hood team gained significant valuable experience in a wide variety of domains and areas. All members of the team gained experience working effectively as a team despite the unique challenges posed by the circumstances. Despite the lack of in-person meetings and limited collaborative group work time, the team learned to work effectively by utilizing group meeting time for planning and delegating tasks, and having team members complete the majority of tasks individually. Additionally, the Pro team members all learned new technical skills and how to use various technologies, including Firebase, Model-View-ViewModel architecture, and Android Studio.
1 out-of-state food pantry interviewed: interested in the software
15+ users tested who reported improvements
20+ tested in beta
Gleaners is connected with 50+ food pickup sites in Indiana
Goal: Word of mouth marketing to at least 50 local food pantries
Link to GitHub repository: https://github.com/sodonova/CommunityNonprofit10
The Red Riding Hood team used the Model-View-ViewModel (MVVM) architecture, adapted for Android, to structure the project. This architecture provides a framework for building robust, scalable, and production quality apps. More details about this architecture may be found here: https://developer.android.com/jetpack/guide.
Key Tools, Libraries, and Frameworks
- Firebase - We chose Firebase Firestore because it integrated easily into Android Studio and it handles data the way in which we needed. Firestore is a NOSQL database - A non-relational database that supports high volume usage and easy scalability.
- Android Studio - We chose Android Studio because it is a free and easy to use app development editor.
- Github - This is a file managing system used to keep track of current editions and limit conflicts.
- Java - The developers were familiar with this language. Android Studio has documentation to help developers in Java.
- XML - This was used for activity pages (UI).
- Trello - We used Trello to distribute tasks and keep track of progress throughout the project.
If you had another 5 weeks to work on this, what would you do next?
We would interview at least 20 in-state food pantries and Gleaners. We want more input from the customer segment to feel fully confident in our solution. We are still waiting to hear back from a contact at Gleaners, but once we do, we will feel more confident about our marketing plan for the customer segment.
We would integrate the app into a website. This would allow those without smartphones or androids to use the system, potentially expanding the customer base.
We would like to add features to the app like:
- Customizable food bags
- Food pantries can input inventory and app will not allow selection of an item that the pantry has run out of
- Restrict how many people can select a specific pick-up time