The Better Fresh Framework

Julianna Lukacs, Stamps School of Art & Design

Collaborators: Dylan Ross, LSA; Will Brinkerhoff, SEAS; Rena Grossman, Stamps; Sarah Gellman, School of Public Health; Stephanie Szemetylo, Senior Design Researcher at Food for Climate League

Faculty Advisor: Francis Nunoo–Quarcoo, Professor, Stamps 

With a focus on design as a powerful tool for social good, the project seeks to harness the unique perspective of creatives to offer innovative solutions – specifically in regards to the food waste issue. Many people are working to solve this problem, but designers pose a distinct point of view and sense of design thinking that is missing from the current discourse and could be crucial to making advances in social good.

This year, I was made aware that in the face of a food waste problem, 1 in 3 college students are food insecure, and at the same time, the world suffers from issues of food insecurity. Globally, enough fresh produce is generated that no one should be food insecure, yet a third of my own peers are.

I felt compelled to contribute to a solution, but with limited financial resources and no background in research, I recognized the potential of my design skills as a valuable asset. Designers, as natural problem solvers, possess a unique ability to address this human-centered issue.

In my research so far, I discovered that a significant portion of food waste, 39%, occurs at the household level. Identifying an opportunity for intervention, I conceived the Better Fresh Framework: a solution-oriented project, a B.F.F. for preserving produce.

This design system aims to use information design to mitigate food waste at home, offering a twofold benefit of reducing landfill impacts as well as extending the shelf life of produce, particularly crucial for those experiencing food insecurity. The grant’s ultimate objective is to facilitate the production and implementation of the B.F.F. design system.

This interdisciplinary project merges design, sustainability, psychology, communications, and public health to address the urgent issue of household food waste. Design propels creative solutions, psychology and communications insights shape behavior change strategies, while sustainability and public health research contribute to an understanding of the issue and potential impacts of our solutions.

A diverse range of perspectives is essential for informed design solutions, and as designers, we bring a unique viewpoint to the ongoing conversation on food waste. We believe the application of design thinking is pivotal in offering innovative solutions to combat household food waste.

The project also serves as a creative platform for student artists, providing them with an opportunity to contribute their skills to a meaningful cause. By involving the Stamps community in our design project, we emphasize the arts as a powerful tool for social impact. Artistic expression is woven into the information design system and the overall brand identity, creating a visually compelling narrative that resonates with our audience.

Interdisciplinary collaboration is imperative, offering a deep understanding of the issue and a pointed strategy crucial for success. Our diverse team, united by a common mission, is well-prepared to overcome potential challenges. Effective communication methods learned from past experiences in campus organizations have equipped us to navigate collaboration and project management.

The timeline is set with a goal to complete the first iteration of our information design by January 1, using November for research and December for design. Dylan Ross, our team lead for research, and I, focusing on design and production, will spearhead the project. A wider group of student collaborators will contribute to specific aspects under our guidance.

The project’s impact on campus aims to raise awareness of how students’ skills can address societal issues. It has already engaged student groups and individuals, creating a positive and rewarding experience. Locally, testing our designs at grocers such as Argus Farms and with produce from Workin Roots will extend our impact, fostering sustainable practices.

My skills as a graphic designer and business student bring design to the forefront, combining technical preparation from Stamps with strategic thinking from business courses. Dylan Ross, my collaborator, contributes research and strategy skills as the President of AAF and a psychology major. Additional collaborators enhance our project’s depth.

Sarah Gellman brings public health expertise, Rena Grossman focuses on branding and graphic design, Will Brinkerhoff contributes agricultural insights, Stephanie Szemetylo guides design methods, and Francis Nunoo–Quarcoo advises on visual identity.

Testing with community partners, Argus Farms and Workin’ Roots, will provide practical insights into our design system. Grant funding is essential to produce and implement the B.F.F. design system effectively. We plan to explore various formats, including produce stickers, pamphlets, or cards, and use the budget for production, printing, and material costs. This flexibility will enable us to approach local partners with finished designs, facilitating easy implementation in their stores.