For our culminating and last challenge of the 2021-2022 program year, eight teams of Fellows selected nonprofits to work with that they were excited to support. Leveraging skills practiced and developed over the course of the fellowship, they co-designed these project collaborations with their partner organization. Fellows Hannah Rainaldi,
Kristin Stepanek, Khalil Davis, and Christina Gleaton partnered with nonprofit Mercado Food Hub Pantry
with Nico Hill and Alma Perez. Learn more about the collaboration below.

The Mercado Food Pantry is a Gleaners food distribution bank located in Southwest Detroit. It is one of the many wonderful services offered at the Ford Resource and Engagement Center. It is known for being the only client-choice food pantry in Michigan. However, due to COVID-19 the Mercado had to change their food distribution model to a drive-through method. The goals for this project were to help improve their distribution process by bringing back client choice to the pantry, and streamline operations for a bare-bones staff. 

During our final project we were able to work with both Nico and Alma to gain insights on the impact that food pantries have across Michigan. Our team spent some Thursdays and Saturdays at the pantry to see the food distribution process first hand. Our research used a combination of design thinking and a hands-on approach to understand the current state of the Mercado and ideate around a more human-centered approach.

Our team worked on the following tools and recommendations as deliverables to assist the Mercado with client-choice and streamline volunteer operations:

  1. Volunteer Welcome Packet 
  2. Map of Mercado (Flow Chart)
  3. Outdoor Market Days in the Plaza – alternate distribution model
  4. Recommendations/FAQ (for volunteers)

We wanted to assist them with their day-to-day processes, and with this being a small team and most of their support coming from volunteers it can be difficult to operate to full efficiency when you constantly have different volunteers coming in for shifts. We aimed to streamline some of the work that has to be done on a day-to-day basis.