On Saturday, May 18, a few of us from Second Harvest’s digital marketing team attended Replate’s – and our first – hackathon at General Assembly in San Francisco. Going in, we didn’t know what to expect, but coming out, we had immediate and long-term solutions for making website information easy to find and navigate for our clients, on top of innovative ideas to chew on and fun photos with our amazing team.

The Challenge

Replate, a food rescue organization, collects surplus food from corporate offices, caterers, restaurants and more, and works with nonprofits to provide meals to those facing food insecurity in the community. Replate explains:

“Some of our biggest and toughest food problems are solved by nonprofits. Problem is, most nonprofits don’t have the bandwidth or resources to design and create the kinds of projects that take an average tech employee a day to create.”

The goal was to bring together food justice nonprofits, designers and developers to work on projects that will further support the fight against hunger and food waste. As one of the participating nonprofits, we proposed our project and Replate assembled a lineup of volunteer experts to tackle it.

Our Project

A key initiative for Second Harvest is ensuring that we understand our clients and are meeting their needs. The high cost of living in our area means access to nutritious food is a challenge, and in ways that defy stereotype. While we currently serve an average of 260,000 people each month, we know there are more people that face food insecurity in our communities that aren’t seeking help for various reasons.

We want people to know that it’s okay to ask for help, but beyond reaching more people, we also want to provide a good experience – both through our programs and our website. In fact, you may have noticed that we launched a new, mobile-responsive website last fall. With so many of our clients accessing our website through their mobile phones, this was critical for ensuring people can intuitively find the information they’re looking for.

With this comes a goal of moving our PDF content, including our hot meal listings, to website and mobile-friendly content. We teamed up with Hana and Robyn, both UX designers and researchers, and Tracey, a marketing communications expert to find a better solution for displaying our hot meal listings. Stay tuned to see our changes soon.

Hana, Robyn and Tracey quickly got to work whiteboarding, wireframing, and asking all of the right questions to understand our audience, problem and goal. After a day of hard work, we walked away with a tiered plan from what’s feasible now to what our ideal outcome would be.

Final Takeaways

At the end of the day, all of the nonprofits and volunteers came together to share their projects and solutions. The Berkeley Food Network, Berkeley Student Food Collective, Bread Project, and Real Food Real Stories teams worked on projects ranging from food storytelling to website navigation. Inspired by everyone’s projects, this was a great experience and way to collectively share our ideas.

Thank you, Replate, for hosting such a great event. Thank you, General Assembly and DoorDash, for donating your space and delicious food. Last but not least, thank you, Hana, Robyn and Tracey for volunteering your expertise and being incredible thought partners in our efforts to provide nutritious meals to more people.