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Food For Thought

food recovery system

Every year around 40% of food that's produced in the U.S. gets thrown away - that's roughly $165 billion dollars worth of discarded and excess food according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. 

The Food For Thought platform is a food recovery system that tackles this problem by providing systems and processes that help companies waste less. This platform allows employees to pre order their food before an event or meeting and also notifies other employees when there is any food left after each event. 


One of the most popular perks at Bay Area tech companies is free food. However, this common perk is also the culprit for an unexpected side effect: food waste. Leftover food from corporate events and large meetings often goes unused and is ultimately thrown away by the cleaning staff.

Excess food from events and large meetings at companies is often wasted and thrown away.


  • Employees don’t know where leftover food from meetings and events are located.

  • Employees feel uncomfortable and judged when taking food from meetings or events from other teams.

  • There are no to go boxes available for employees to take catered food home.

  • There is no internal communication channel that notifies employees when there is leftover food available.

  • Cleaning staff throw away food because of liability concerns since they do not know if the food has been out for too long.

Employees don't know where leftover food from meetings is and when they do, they don't know if it is ok to take it and fear being judged. 

research insights

  • Catered food is often ordered internally through the company's kitchen or provided by outside vendors. Therefore, there is no way for employees to know the types of leftover food from the event and if it's something they are interested in.
  • Employees are hesitant to take food home with them as they fear being judged by their peers. There are also no to-go containers or tupperware available for employees to take the food with them.
  • Employees don't know where to find leftover food from events and when they do find it, it's hard to know it it's ok to take it or not. It's unclear if the meeting is over or if the food is for a specific team.

Research showed that employees don't currently have any communication channels to inform them about leftover food. events are often catered for specific teams and there is no way to know if it is ok to take food or not.


There is a communication gap between the person who orders the food and the rest of the employees.

How might we close the gap between the individuals who order the food and those interested in eating it?


First, we need to understand the journey so we can identify gaps and opportunities. Then we will think about how we can solve this problem through our technology resources.

There is an opportunity to reduce waste by giving employees a chance to select different food options they like before attending an event. Event admins can let other employees know when there is any food left and if it is ok to take it. 




  • There is an opportunity to ask employees what they want to eat before the event
  • After employees confirm what they want to eat, the most popular options are ordered to minimize waste
  • After the event, the organizer can inform the system how much and what kind of food is left 
  • Employees can be informed about the specific types of food available and where it's  location
  • Providing to-go containers will encourage employees to take food with them

my approach to close this communication gap is through email channels and a web app. This system gives employees the ability to pick the types of food they want to eat beforehand and notifies employees when there is any food leftover.

designing an end to end experience



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in order to avoid food waste, communication between employees and event organizers needS to be streamlined.





After confirming their attendance to a meeting or event, employees get an email with a link for them to go through the menu of the caterer or internal kitchen to select the kinds of food they are interested in



After clicking on the "Choose from menu" button, employees are redirected to the web app so they can scroll through the menu and see the different options available. At a glance, they can see the food options as well as calories, different color codes for vegetarian, gluten, spicy, and other dietary restrictions. 



Employees can click to learn more about the different food options. They can read the full description of the dish, along with ingredients, nutritional information, and dietary restrictions.



After each event, the event admin or the cleaning staff informs the system through the web app about the types of food that was left. The system automatically sends an email to all employees in the office to let them know if there is any leftover food after the events.  



Employees are redirected to the web app so they can learn more about the kinds of food left after the events. This allows them to see what kind of food is available, where to find it, as well as the time when it was served. Users can also update the system and let others know when there is no more food left.



Employees get a follow up email letting them now how much food they saved to keep them motivated and it also gives them an opportunity to provide feedback. This promotes saving food while also improving the system. 


As an Interaction Designer who has worked in various roles in the restaurant industry, I really enjoyed working on this project. I was able to use my prior restaurant experience combined with Interaction Design to tackle one of the biggest problems in Silicon Valley: Food Waste. I would love to see this project live and start saving food.


Date: June 2017

Length: 1 week

Role: UX, UI, and User Research

Software Used: Sketch and Keynote

Advisor: Paul Autran– Product Designer at Facebook