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Eating After Baby: making eating for postpartum moms easier so they can heal and be active in caring for their babies during postpartum.

Getting nutritious, ready-to-eat meals to moms at home during the postpartum period, so that moms eat and eat healthy.

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Updates: How has your idea changed or evolved throughout the Prize? What updates have you made to this submission? (1500 characters)

We really found out about this opportunity at a very late stage and didn't benefit as much from the many resources available. For us, that is a big disadvantage and loss, but we feel that we have made up some of it by spending time and reading through many of the almost 500 proposed ideas. We wished we would have learned about this opportunity early. We know we would have benefited enormously! After reading the many ideas and who the innovators are, we really feel that we belong with this community of ideas (and innovators) and we know that we can learn from them and adapt our idea if given more time. Some other learnings that we gained from reading other ideas and proposals: 1) Many in our category focused on caregivers/parents generally, but no one really focused on mom in those early weeks upon returning home after birth when everything has changed and there are huge adjustments to be made. 2) We learned the importance of conveying/communicating the innovation more clearly and try to apply how others did to our own, especially with a new concept like ours.

Name or Organization

We are really early in our concept. We are working on incorporating our organization, likely to be: Postpartum Food Connector

Geography

We will start our concept focusing in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area of Minnesota (or the Twin Cities).

What is your stage of development?

  • Early Stage Innovator, with at least one-year experience in ECD

Type

  • Team

What is the stage of your proposal?

  • Research & Early Testing: I am exploring my idea, gathering the inspiration and information I need to test it with real users.

Describe your submission in one clear sentence

Eating well for postpartum moms is critical for healing and health, which is critical for babies’ early childhood care and development. But these moms don’t often eat or eat right. They are exhausted, busy with baby and adjustments. So that moms eat right, we will deliver healthy ready-to-eat meals to postpartum moms in their homes, from a hub that will coordinate between moms/families, health providers, food companies, culinary professionals and delivery services - e.g. Bite Squad/Amazon.

Describe how your solution could be a game-changer for your selected Opportunity Area (600 characters)

Currently, the commercial channels and charitable food supports do not target and support postpartum moms. They don't even market to postpartum moms who can pay, and surely not targeting those in need. We aim to change this by bringing awareness to the challenges of eating and eating well after baby, and coordinate and forge partnerships across sectors to focus more on moms in the postpartum period by providing them with a basic need - food, by making it easier to eat, so that they can focus on their baby and the family adjustments that are needed during this period.

Select an Innovation Target

  • Platform: Creating a community or market that facilitates interaction between users and resources.

Tell us more about your innovation (1500 characters)

The period after birth is a period of major adjustments, chaos and sleepless nights, to say the least. Parents, especially moms, put their self-care last as they work to survive the immediate postpartum weeks. Finding the time to eat or sleep is difficult, especially for eating, if you don’t have the time to buy groceries and/or make/cook something even if you have food in the pantry. We believe that a food support system focused on postpartum moms, operating in coordination with health care providers, can provide healthy foods for moms at home, in the early weeks after birth. This support will bring tremendous benefits to moms, their babies, families and society in the short term and long term. We believe that much of the infrastructure needed for this to happen, already exists, and that the innovation here is how we re-arrange existing parts of this infrastructure to solve a critical problem for many postpartum moms, that being eating after baby. Because it is such a need across all communities and classes of postpartum moms, our concept of being a public benefit corporation allows us to charitably serve those moms in need (by working with local food organization like Second Harvest Heartland and WIC programs), while generating fees from moms and families that can pay for healthy pre-made meals, delivered right to home.

What problem are you aiming to solve? (3 sentences)

A mother's body has undergone many changes after birth. Postpartum mothers need a healthy diet to promote healing and recovery. Many are so tired or busy that food gets forgotten. A lack of healthy eating is linked to postpartum disorders and more. There is a lot of information/advice about the why and what to eat and planning. All of this is forgotten when mothers are tired and busy with baby. Our idea makes food ready at the fingertips of moms. They don’t need more advice, they need to eat.

Explain your idea (5000 characters)

To solve this challenge, we want to create a postpartum food center or hub with an OnDemand restaurant service, that coordinates the existing systems (including health providers, private and public food grower/provider organizations/programs, culinary professionals, and delivery systems like Bite Squad and Amazon) together, to offer healthy ready-to-eat meals that are delivered to postpartum mothers at home. While ordering food for deliver has become more enhanced in terms of choices (beyond just pizza delivery) and faster, it only works if families can afford it. It is equivalent to eating out every night - perhaps more expensive. Families are paying retail prices for what's delivered, plus delivery fees. We're trying to coordinate surpluses and tap into people's and companies' socially responsible conscience to make it more affordable for mothers – as a healthcare responsibility). This in turn benefits the babies. We envision working with health providers to give expecting mothers the information and ask them to register to receive meals at the time of prenatal visits and/or before discharge from the hospital after birth. Health providers will forward that information to the postpartum food hub, which will then connect directly with mothers and coordinate from that point. We envision donations of food commodities from farmers of their excess and unused yields, donations or low-cost food from supermarkets, hunger organizations like Second Harvest, as well as purchased foods coming into a postpartum food hub and OnDemand restaurant service. It will also recruit volunteer culinary professionals and trainees to prepare the foods, according to recipes and menus that meet the needs of postpartum mothers. The postpartum food hub will create partnerships with delivery services such as Amazon, Bite Squad and UPS to get the prepared meal to mothers who requests ready-to-eat food at home. As you can see, we have a concept and have done preliminary mapping of the existing systems that need to come together and align and/or be re-arranged to ensure that all postpartum mothers eat well by providing ready-to-eat food to them in their homes. In that way, we have a roadmap of how parts of the existing systems would/could interact. We are working hard to build partnerships and collaborations between these systems. We have a lot do to incorporate the details for many other components of this idea. One component or question is what do mothers want to eat (that is also healthy). Food is very personal – having connections to culture, health restrictions, religion, taste and preferences. And Minnesota, especially the immediate seven-county metro area (which includes Minneapolis/St. Paul) are very diverse, in particular race/ethnicity and income levels. Arriving at a menu will require a lot of input from the consumers – the postpartum mothers. Other components include preferences and manner of delivery – e.g. frequency, quantity, manner of drop off. All of this and many more are important to identify and address through a human-centered process, so that we truly serve the needs of postpartum mothers – avoiding disruptions for baby feeding, resting and family time. See more about our human-centered approach (in that section) as we build out this concept. Finally, we want to serve all postpartum mothers. We especially want to serve mothers who are low-income and or single-mothers by advocating for them and collaborating with the state and nonprofit food programs that exist to support them. For example, WIC and other state food programs reimbursements. We will market to private-pay mothers who can afford to pay. Most of all, we will make it affordable for all postpartum mothers eat and eat healthy because they are the direct and primary factor for good baby care and development.

Who benefits? (1500 characters)

In general, all postpartum mothers in the geography that we propose to serve are the key beneficiaries of this concept and their babies are impacted when they’re impacted. As we noted above, the postpartum period is especially critical that both mothers and babies are healthy. Eating well will help postpartum mothers be healthy and active and able to care for their baby. Specifically, we believe that postpartum mothers who are low-income, and/or are from communities of color, who statistically are more likely to live in neighborhoods with less access to places offering healthy food choices, and single mothers who may not have the support at home, will benefit from this more than others. Postpartum mothers who are from more affluent families could afford to order food for delivery from existing restaurants, the food they need/want. This can still be expensive and a big burden for families who just added an addition to the family unit -- which means more costs. Our concept will also help these mothers and their families, by lessening the financial burden on and the stress that can affect the health of mothers during this critical period of adjustment and healing.

What kind of impact will your idea have? (1500 characters)

The benefits are many, both short and long term – some measurable and have been documented while other benefits are less measurable, and thus more anecdotal. It is undisputed about the connection between nutrition and physical, social and emotional health. It is vital for all of us, but especially vital for postpartum mothers, as they heal, adjust and work to meet the needs of a newborn, while biological and chemical changes are taking place in their body. The right nutrition helps postpartum mothers physically heal better, have a more balanced mental state, feel more able to function and ultimately provide for their baby. This has been shown to lower the risk and/or prevent postpartum disorders and depression. Overall, mothers, the primary caregiver during this postpartum period, are able to meet the needs of their baby better. On the less measurable side – people are just less irritable and more happy and positive when they eat well. That positivism affects the people around them. Postpartum mothers who have other children will feel that around their mother. The mother is more likely to function and support the needs of the other children, and the family unit as a whole. Mood and tone in the family is overall healthier.

How does or how could your idea impact low-income children? (1500 characters)

Postpartum mothers from low-income backgrounds are less likely to have access to healthy foods and less likely to have the support at home for many reasons, including a partner or family members who may have a job or a shift in which they work hours that they can’t be home to support mom and baby. Both mother and baby are negatively impacted in this case. Mothers from low-income backgrounds struggle with all of the same healing, adjustments without much resources, which takes away from the baby.

Innovation: What makes your concept innovative? (1500 characters)

It is innovative because it is optimizing the utility and the impact on society of existing systems. It is re-arranging and upgrading current systems to meet a challenge in early childhood development. We also do not see this services provided to moms and it is such a solvable challenge - one that is scaleable.

Feasibility: Where are you with understanding the feasibility of your idea? Describe what you’ve done so far and your plans. (3000 characters)

We're are in very early idea formation. We propose to do more research and testing before moving forward.

HCD: How have you used human centered design to build or refine your concept? (1500 characters)

As mentioned above, this is a very early idea. We plan to discuss and collect more data from all key stakeholders/partners, especially mothers.

Tell us more about you (3000 characters)

My name is Kayla Yang-Best and I've been working in the nonprofit/philanthropy space for the last 18 years. I am well connected to the ecosystem of early childhood learning and development in the focused area. This is an idea that I've been interested in for many years and informally have shared it with nonprofit leaders and early childhood providers about. Due to other commitments I never had the chance to dig more into the research and test out the idea more formally. I hope to do so through the support of this program.

Do you have the people and partners you need to do what you’ve described? (500 characters)

I am looking for partners from all the sectors/industries described in the model above - such as health providers and food companies. I am well connected to the early childhood community as well as the food community in the area. Working through health provider networks will be new for me. I'll also need research/evaluation support for the research.

Would you like mentoring support? [Relevant only for Early Submission Deadline]

  • Yes

If so, what type of mentoring support do you think you need? (1200 characters) [Relevant only for Early Submission Deadline]

On a more general level, I would like mentoring on business planning and influencing sector participation. More specifically, I would like support with accessing state government reimbursement programs and navigating through regulatory processes.

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