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Case Study

Roaming Grocer
Designing access to food for the better health outcome of the food insecure community.

The Roaming Grocer is a service that aims to provide accessible, affordable, culturally and dietarily appropriate food to Travis County community members experiencing food insecurity. 


This service comprises a food delivery van that will meet community members in their neighborhoods and ensure affordability by allowing the use of SNAP benefits for payment. We strive to make this service a reliable fixture in these communities, using a sustainable financial model, so that community members experiencing food insecurity always have a resource to lean on.

Team: Divya S Jain, Ashlyn Anthony, Daphne Hancock, Nikhil Mahadevan, and Nina Lemieux


Project info: Fall semester 2021, Master of Design focused in Health Program at The University of Texas at Austin


My Role: As the lead system and service design strategist, I developed the system map, service blueprint, and customer journey map in collaboration with other team members by providing a bird’ eye view while paying attention to details. I collaborated with the team in conceptualizing and creating design principles, business model canvas, visual language, competitor analysis, and SWOT analysis. I facilitated valuable directions for the service strategy by bringing insights and comparisons from the community study experience from India.  

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The Challenge

Food Insecurity & Chronic Disease in Travis County: Travis County residents who are experiencing food insecurity carry a greater chronic disease burden because they lack regular access to healthy foods. There are 17.4 million food-insecure households in the US and ~186,860 food-insecure residents in Travis County.


How might we help low-income Austin residents and the community, easily access healthy and nutritious food that agrees with their unique diet when they need it?

Our Approach
Building equitable futures in healthcare


Gathering data and insights to understand the need of the community. 


Finding key trends, patterns, and themes to synthesize the research data.


Designing a system map to visualize systems to uncover opportunities for positive change. 


Planning business logistics of the service model to address the problem. 

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Designing low-fidelity products to test the community reaction and receive feedback.

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1. Design Research


In order to conduct effective contextual field research, our approach was to apply equity-centered practices and
techniques throughout the research process. We designed fieldwork methods to gather behavioral data for big-picture insights and to understand the needs of the community. 


Our research goal was to better understand how the target community thinks about/make decisions on/interact with the current system, in order to improve the overall community health.

Design Research
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2. Sensemaking


We explored key trends, patterns, and themes that helped us learn more about our primary stakeholders. We further organized the data, insights, and findings through empathy map, affinity map, and journey map. We practiced building empathy for your community stakeholder to understand the community stakeholder's current experience.

Good Apple introduced us to three women that we had the chance to interview for better understanding the unmet needs of our neighbors. We made personas of the real people from those interviews to keep the confidentiality of their personal information.

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3. System Mapping


Our system map embraced complexity and uncovered opportunities for positive change. We started with collecting key variables, grouping them by common themes, clustering them together in the same color background. The five areas that we focused on in this system map are ‘Social Determinants of Health’, ‘Food Assistance’, ‘Consumer Traits’, ‘Impact on Health’, and ‘Food Supply in Travis County.’ The direct and indirect connections between the variables emerged as we added arrows to the map.


Reviewing our map, we appreciated that of all our demographic factors, geography was the most interconnected with other systems. We wondered "Why can't a grocery store just move into this area?" and looked into possible laws, policies, and financial incentives shaping the current food supply and food assistance in Travis County.

System mapping
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