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A service that provides surplus produce and promotes healthy diets in food deserts.

Photo of Stephen Lynn
27 17

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Sprout is a service designed to take advantage of food waste and provide surplus produce to cities like Bedford-Stuyvesant, N.Y.. It's a way to access produce and become educated on the benefits as well. By using surplus produce from farms and grocery stores that would otherwise be thrown away, Sprout ships this produce to mobile pods set up on streets in the food desert area for the consumer to visit daily (reducing infrequent large shopping trips which end up wasting more food) and get back in the routine of cooking and healthy eating. The app accompanying the user finds the mobile pods near them and what produce they are offering for what price. The user can also create shopping lists that pair with healthy recipes they in interested in cooking.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

I might begin testing out the app with users and keep researching food banks and food services to understand distribution.

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

I would like to know how feasible something this scale would be? Could there be a profit made with surplus produce? Would grocery stores and/or farms be willing to agree to sell or donate their excess produce? What other areas in the U.S. could this service apply to?

Tell us about your work experience:

I am a 4th year industrial design major at Virginia Tech.

This idea emerged from

  • An Individual

How far along is your idea?

  • It was in the works before this challenge – it’s existed for 2-6 months

How would you describe this idea to your grandmother?

Imagine your weekly farmer's market is open everyday, just around the corner from your house and offers subsidized produce with the same nutritional value.

How is your idea unique to the space?

This idea is unique because it caters to a larger market and demographic. High, middle or low income households are targeted through Sprout's distinct brand and value proposition. It is unique because it offers produce at a lower price point because it is surplus produce that would have been discarded anyways. Also, with the accompanying app, the value for Sprout goes up with it's useful features of nutrition information and recipe guide as an incentive to shop there.

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

Local farmers and surrounding grocery stores are key players to make this idea reality. Both have to agree to sell or donate their surplus or "didn't make the cut" produce to Sprout in order to make the business work.

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

I have been considering testing this idea out on a small scale level maybe through a preexisting food drive. Also, if a business model is created that determines net profit and potential sales, we could see how that compares to preexisting services and stores.

What are your immediate next steps after the challenge?

To test and validate Sprout. That means, talking to farmers and grocer vendors to see what incentives would be needed to work. Also, creating a testing scenario with some user test subjects and a mock-mobile pod to see the interaction and experience of the user.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Aayushi

Hi Stephen,

I think it is a very good idea of stopping the food waste from the vendors side especially!
But I was wondering what will happen if there is still more food still left in the sprout? will it be thrown away? or stored? or donated?
In addition how will the quality of a product maintained?


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