Maryland, United States, Baltimore
Theme/Year: Food Systems 2016
Category: Open Challenge
Status: Award Winner
In Baltimore, one in four residents live in a food desert, lacking physical, economic, and cultural access to healthy food. This is the result of decades of segregation, white flight and disinvestment in neighborhoods. Current urban renewal projects prioritize attracting new residents over addressing the needs of current residents in less affluent communities within East and West Baltimore.FocusWhile these communities often lack supermarkets, they are home to many of the city’s 435 corner stores. However, corner stores offer very limited fresh food options, mostly providing snacks, sodas and other processed foods. We asked, “How might we bring fresh healthy food to people in Baltimore that currently have limited access?” Through conversation with food access experts in Baltimore, we realized that addressing this problem isn’t just about physical access; education is needed to build demand for new foods. We take an earth centered design approach - the combination of human centered design and biomimicry - to analyze problems, find inspirations and develop strategies. Our team identified the Type 3 Functional Response Curve for confirmation of this pattern in nature and to address opportunities for learning. In order to meet people where they are, Optimal Foraging Theory inspired us to minimize the energy needed to eat a healthy meal. In Baltimore corner markets, we propose the introduction of prepared fresh foods made from local excess food to provide the community with low barrier healthy food options. We are employing strategies of pollination and attraction in building the recognition of corner stores as a micro-habitat for fresh foods.