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Employee wellness programs offer more than just healthy eating tips (Updated 10/11 - Prototype Feedback and Next Steps)

Include food waste information and challenges in employee wellness program initiatives.

Photo of Megan Kennedy
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Our Idea


Our research showed people were struggling with how much to buy, how to use it before it goes bad, and what dishes to use it in when they had leftovers.

Existing Infrastructure: What is an Employee Wellness Program?

Companies are helping employees to live healthier by educating them on staying active, eating healthy and being financially savvy. Wellness programs are organized by employers to help their employees eat better, lose weight and improve their overall health.

Programs can include activities such as weight-loss competitions, educational seminars, tobacco-cessation workshops and health screenings. Wellness programs often include financial incentives for employees, such as lower health-insurance premiums or reimbursement for gym memberships.

Many wellness programs offer educational and motivational components aimed at creating and maintaining individual health. This could extend to the food waste challenge to create a more holistic, end-to-end experience.


Educating employees on how to buy, store and use fresh food would help to reduce waste. The programs could extend their reach to create and maintain healthy food habits. Possible suggestions: Meal plans and shopping lists could help make employees aware of how to manage.

Both companies and employees win financially. Employees are healthier, eating fresh versus packaged food which reduces healthcare costs for companies. It would be great if companies could somehow measure this to provide environmental impact (and maybe tax benefits).

An incentive program (which some wellness programs currently offer) would encourage employee engagement in these programs. Investing in employee education now could help make long-lasting change.


How can we "score" or measure the food waste competitions between employees/teams?

Some wellness programs automatically sync data from fitness trackers like Fitbit. This reduces the employee's burden to report progress. Following this existing model, we would introduce employees to food waste prevention apps that could be synced automatically to their wellness accounts. For example, we would encourage and reward employee use of apps like these just created through the OpenIDEO challenge- ExpireShelf Life, Go Between, CoBuy.


Success may be measured by employee engagement in the food waste elements of the wellness program. Quantitative results would come in the form of points awarded for reading food waste informational cards or participating in department/team food waste competitions. 

Evaluating the Idea

Identify Riskiest Assumption

Our riskiest assumption was that employees who participate in wellness programs are interested in reducing food waste. We hypothesized that if people were given the choice of which wellness program to participate in, they would choose the program that includes food waste initiatives.

Test Riskiest Assumption

To test this hypothesis, we prototyped a lightweight, low fidelity wellness application. We interviewed four people who have participated in a wellness program. Using the prototype, we asked them to "set their interests" for this new wellness program application. We tested two versions (A/B) to see which messaging might be more effective "reducing food waste" or "reducing food costs." Interact with the prototype:Prototype Results

Three out of four people did not elect to "turn on" the food waste component.

Feedback Insights

  1. People think they’re doing fine already in regards to food waste.
  2. There is a lack of knowledge around the larger problem and the impact individuals can have.
  3. People were not uninterested, but they don't see this as one of their needs right now.

"It’s [food waste reduction initiative in a wellness program] a 'nice to have.' There’s already enough being done." - Participant

See next steps below...

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

Any insight into creating effective wellness programs or incentive programs for people would be helpful! We are looking for ways to collaborate with other applications that would sync automatically with this wellness tool. Ideally, the applications would remove the burden of self-reporting and manual measurement from participating employees.

Tell us about your work experience:

This idea comes from a group of product designers and entrepreneurs with a shared passion for food waste prevention and social impact.

This idea emerged from

  • A group brainstorm

How far along is your idea?

  • It’s just been created! It’s existed for 1 day - 1 month

How would you describe this idea to your grandmother?

Companies give their employees benefits on top of their salary. We're adding another tool to educate people to make better choices when buying food. We're adding an element/feature to teach them how to save money, reduce food waste and eat healthier. People can compete on teams to win prizes or creating the least amount of food waste.

How is your idea unique to the space?

Organizations exist to educate people through in-person workshops, email campaigns, and newsletters. This idea leverages the infrastructure of educational and motivational programs already in use by companies. The idea brings empowerment and financial benefits to employees who may not know or understand their current food waste metrics. The corporate wellness channel already reaches many people. This idea just makes programs end-to-end.

Who needs to play a role in your idea in order to make it successful?

Company wellness directors, human resource departments, employees, and employers are all key stakeholders.

How do you plan to measure the impact of your idea?

We plan to collaborate with other measurement tools/apps that will assist with generating quantitative data of individual efforts. Further, we will be able to collect this data as more companies/employees participate in the program. Next, we plan to extrapolate the food waste reduction impact by applying cost/expense factors.

What are your immediate next steps after the challenge?

We would test our next hypothesis using an iteration of the first prototype. Next Hypothesis: If people are informed that their food waste knowledge and current behaviors allow room for improvement and cost savings, then they will elect to participate in the food waste component of the wellness program. Prototype Iteration: Enrollment begins with a survey about their current habits. Survey results indicate the person shows room for improvement and cost savings benefits of participating.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Elizabeth Marguerite

The lay out of this proposal is really clear and well designed. It makes the vision even more compelling.

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