Idea To Reality
The sunshine state’s hot climate and year-ground growing season seems like an ideal situation for every citizen to eat but unfortunately that is not the case. We first reached out to the community to assess and elaborate how we can build solutions for the community by the community. Stakeholders such as Second Harvest (our chapter of Feeding America inc) & Good News Outreach (a faith-based rehabilitation network) have outlined our path and we have ideated and brainstormed after learning what the needs of our communities were. Food Insecurity is a complex issue that has existed indefinitely, though we have broken it down into three of the biggest factors.
- A Lack of Preservation Methods
- Accessibility to Nutritious Options
- Education & Resources Distribution
To develop a proposed implementation of our solutions, we spoke to stakeholders within the Tallahassee community to understand how to help citizens who experience unstable access to nutritious foods. Tackling food insecurity is a complex mission that requires multiple projects to combat, knowing that we developed three solutions to the problems: Chi-Fresh, FreshWagon & a Tallahassee tailored informational pamphlet on food insecurity.
Local food banks do not receive fresh produce because there is not enough fridge space or other methodologies to hold fresh produce long enough to distribute it. To address the lack of preservation at local food banks, we propose Chi-Fresh as a cheap method of preserving fresh food at local institutions. Chi-Fresh is a sprayable preservation method that can extend fresh produce weeks longer than without it at multiple levels of the food supply chain.
The advantages of utilizing Chi-fresh start at farms where vegetables are initially sold and where the vegetables are at the start of their short life cycle of freshness. A preserving bioplastic can be utilized at produce distribution centers that sell to grocery stores. The repackaging will increase the value of the product since the turnover rate necessary for the grocery store will decrease. The consumer will also not need to rush to consume the fresh food therefore increasing the value at multiple levels. Though the initial stakeholder we modeled Chi-Fresh after is the food pantries since most food-insecure citizens receive their foods at that point of contact & that is our goal as a team. We recognize there are more applications than food insecurity at a preservation level though it can be utilized at multiple levels. This allows for higher impact which can fund our food insecurity efforts through the market.
Before Chi-Fresh, local food banks must dispose of their fresh produce immediately as they are given extreme sizes of produce usually at the end of their freshness cycle at one time rather than scheduled donations of well-preserved produce. For example, Second Harvest may receive 50 pounds of Watermelon from a donor and have to find a way to distribute the produce immediately whereas, with Chi-Fresh, they could hold and distribute at a steady rate as people only eat so much watermelon over a week.
After the Chi-fresh is produced, the initial strategy for Chi-Fresh would be to pitch to potential customers & gauge their interest. We would work with local farmers to assure they are comfortable and understand the value of the product for their produce sales. After validating the product, we pitch to venture capitalists & market Chi-Fresh to more customers as a part of the go-to-market strategy. Locally, Florida State University offers a start-up competition where prizes up to $50k can be won to support the company development.Last steps
As the company runs, we would seek to enter our proposed markets at a local, state, and national level to compete with petroleum-based plastics. Through our sustainable and affordable sourcing methodology, we seek to compete on value based pricing. After establishing as a stable and emerging enterprise, we would need to analyze cost-benefit analysis compared to petroleum-based plastics though the plastic would be advertised as a product that would greatly reduce the carbon footprints of companies as well as extending the shelf life of products for food selling companies. Chi-Fresh offers three value propositions such that it ...
- extends shelf life
- is biodegradable
After establishing as a stable and emerging enterprise, we would need to analyze cost-benefit analysis compared to petroleum-based plastics so that we can scale & reduce costing as the market responds.
Safety & Challenges
Research has deemed chitin a likely allergen. Aware of the allergenic issue, we propose future research into the removal of the allergy risk. That is the greatest risk within the Chi-Fresh project so addressing it within labeling or within Research and Development will prove essential to implementation (1).
Through quick research, it was obvious to us that food deserts clearly defined the regions of citizens we wish to alleviate of their food insecurity. Food deserts are defined by a lack of accessibility to grocery stores within a space. This leads to a habit of sourcing cheaper food at fast food and corner stores that do not provide high nutrition to the consumers eating it. Knowing this, we decided having a mobile market would allow for locations that otherwise do not receive fresh food, to receive it via a mobile storefront. Produce Mobile would allow a high volume of impact as mapping the perfect route using Census data and partnering with local partners like Second Harvest is possible.
Above shows the Tallahassee Opportunity Zones which is a term used to describe economically distressed communities, nominated by America’s governors, and certified by the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury via his delegation of that authority to the Internal Revenue Service. The areas highlighted are areas Produce Mobile will service. As Census data shows, there are clear areas in need of fresh produce accessibility so to publically schedule and announce plans utilizing stakeholders in the area can maximize consumer volume. We plan to work with the community to add value to those already helping their networks. Speaking with Second Harvest of Feeding Florida has educated our business plan so that we can produce a valuable solution to Tallahassee. There are many areas in Tallahassee that could utilize Produce Mobile as expanded upon in the entrepreneurship page.
Contacting key partners to set up logistical networks would be first before the Produce Mobile is in service. Assessing and creating a funding plan would be essential as the most expensive costs of the vending machine itself occur at the initial set up so having an investor or multiple investors interested in helping the community would benefit our likelihood of success. Sourcing angel investors & government grant opportunities would be the best option as Produce Mobile values impact over profit.
We plan to locate around centralized areas of travel like Churches & community centers so gaining permission from different organizations is essential to supporting and uplifting the community through Produce Mobile. We project the company to be registered as a B-corp given the business model as mentioned on the entrepreneurship page as it incentivizes funders and employees to create value that can be utilized by high- and low-income citizens at different price points.
After the modeling is complete and the first Produce Mobile is turning profits, we would speak to local community members & decide upon servicing another Produce Mobile in Tallahassee. Once we understand the margins and expansion modeling we wish to expand into other cities such as Gainesville with similar issues. Financial Modeling and consumer acceptance are important variables we would need to track to understand the choices Once that is done, it would be possible to scale to similar cities and outwards across the nation.
Safety & Challenges
Customer Adoption Fears
The customer segment we are targeting is very accustomed to the habits and convenience of fast & cheap food that does not need to be cooked. Although providing fresh produce is the mission of government organizations and ours, there is a risk in not knowing the sales of produce as opposed to corner store products as the consumer will have that choice.
Our financing model must account for spoilage as we can not determine our turnover rate until sales are starting. The rate of spoilage is difficult to quantify so it is a risk though it is a risk we must take to undergo operations. Selling delicious & fresh food is essential to our mission as a company so we need to take precaution before selling to consumers and be aware of the dates we receive and distribute food at.
Vehicles can be prone to break so unplanned expenses may occur during the operations process. Preparing and budgeting for the costs involved in maintaining the food truck will prepare us for these issues.
Food Insecurity PamphletPurpose
Education to resources is essential to creating solutions that can be sustained and expanded upon. As we have learned the stakeholder map of Tallahassee, we realize there are resources underutilized or not known about to the extent at which it should be. Uplifting the networks and organizations involved in the city’s welfare & growth is a guiding factor in our vision as project managers. Through our extensive research, we wish to immediately implement into the community as soon as its finished as the stakeholders have influenced and validated our decision making. We intend for the pamphlet to be open-source, easily updated, and helpful to those we wish to utilize it.
The front of the brochure will contain resources & education that can immediately be utilized into the reader’s life. A map (physical & interactive through the website) listing resources such as the local food banks, pantries, and rehabilitation centers that exist to benefit the community as well as bus routes and farmer markets will be provided. Through our research, we have mapped out the stakeholders that work to alleviate food insecurity so we want those experiencing hunger to be aware of these organizations as food waste is an issue identified. Educating food insecure citizens about Food Assistance Programs such as SNAP and FAB and how they can be utilized to reduce the pains of shopping for groceries as economics is a leading factor of food insecurity.
The back of the brochure will contain information regarding what it means to exist in a food desert or swamp, what an ideal diet with macronutrients should look like, and the importance of sustaining a nutritional diet. A contact list full of working numbers, times, locations, and emails of organizations mentioned on map is listed on the back of the brochure so it is easy as possible to be integrated into the livelihood of those who read the brochures. There is only limited space so we will be providing a website full of other resources we feel are important to those living in a food-insecure environment whether that be in a food desert, without a home, or in a dorm.
Assuring & scouting stakeholders to hold and share the pamphlet is important to realizing its usage to the community. Receiving stakeholder feedback and iterating on the design & wording will be the next steps. As we identify what works & what doesn’t immediately, we create multiple iterations onwards. We also need to create a protocols system so that a stakeholder like Second Harvest or Florida State University can easily edit as our team disbands.
Understanding how the information on the brochure will evolve and handing off the brochure editing responsibilities is important to the longevity and true sustainability of our implementation. Protocols of how to handle and update the proposed implementation will be under different organizations’ responsibilities as our iGEM team graduates and travel out of Tallahassee. A concentrated commitment to sustainability would be our last step as to do our diligence in having it circulation after graduation.
Safety & Challenges
To prevent issues of outdated material we will keep the document editable and easy to retype when need be. To be up-to-date it is important to note the edits and have versions starting with 1 til hypothetically 20. Working with local stakeholders to upkeep and provide the most useful information is important to us as we wish to make a sustainable impact that is for the community and also assisted by the community. Obtaining feedback from the community will allow more versions to have greater benefits as it is updated.