Kellogg and Northwestern students team up to bring healthy food to underserved communities
6/3/2011 - Many organizations focus on improving the supply of healthy food to “food deserts,” areas where residents — generally poor — have limited access to nutritious, affordable food.
But Saloni Doshi ’12 believes they are missing a huge part of the problem.
“No solution seemed to recognize the fact that residents in food deserts are time-strapped,” she said. “Even with access [to healthy food] and cooking classes, residents often do not have the time to translate that knowledge into action.”
Doshi and her teammates translated that need into a winning business concept called “Homemade To-Go” for this year’s Social Entrepreneurship in Health & Wellness Challenge. Ten teams participated in the competition, which asked Kellogg students to work with students from other Northwestern University programs to develop business plans that not only address the problems of access, but also help build vibrant local economies.
“The Challenge offers students the opportunity to apply their academic learning to tough, real-world problems,” said Jamie Jones ’09, assistant director of social enterprise at the Kellogg School. “The concepts they produced demonstrated the variety of ways that the issue can be approached.”
Combining the convenience of takeout with the education of cooking classes, the Homemade To-Go concept empowers customers with the passion and knowledge to begin preparing healthy meals themselves, Doshi said.
“In a one-hour Homemade To-Go session, participants assemble up to six meals that will be taken home to be heated and served at their convenience — no shopping, chopping or cleanup required,” she said. “Throughout the session, they will also learn about nutrition, kitchen equipment, cooking techniques and grocery shopping so they can gradually learn how to recreate those same meals at home.”
The team, which included Kellogg students Jennifer Chu ’12 and Josie Haspel ’12, as well as medical student Christopher Childers and engineering student Ritu Gopal, competed against fellow finalist ChicagOasis May 11 at Wieboldt Hall for Alexa Van de Walle and Henry F. Owsley Prize of $7,000.
The concept for ChicagOasis, developed by Kellogg students Sachpreet Chandhoke ’11 and Kate Jackson ’11, involved launching a fleet of food trucks that serve breakfast, lunch and dinner in areas of high foot traffic on Chicago’s South and West sides, as well as selling bundled fresh fruits and vegetables accompanied by recipes to encourage healthy cooking.
Challenge participants had the chance to work with experts in the healthy-food movement, social entrepreneurs, local food producers and members of the city government, including Sheelah Muhammad '95 and Daphne Curtin '11. The event was judged by a panel of noted changemakers:
- Vicki B. Escarra, president & CEO, Feeding America
- Amy Chen, director, Global Nutrition Group, PepsiCo
- Alexa Van de Walle '87, founder, LightHeartedLocavore.com
- Will Allen, CEO, Growing Power
- Brad Blum '78, CEO, Blum Enterprises
- Glenn Ford '92, Founder, Praxis Marketplace
- Julia-Feliz Sessoms, Director of Public Policy, PepsiCo
Other participating teams included:
- Food 4 Life — Kellogg students Eva Leung ’12, Bryan Lee ’12, Daniel Haspel ’12 and journalism student Sushmita Dhar
- In My Backyard Farms — Kellogg students Christopher Jones, Marilyn Chen ’12, Dimple Bansal ’12 and medical student Theadora Sakata
- Urban Oasis — Kellogg students Bria Day, Michiko Komatsu ’12, Evan Young and medical student Sophie Meyers
- Team Chariot — Kellogg students Tyler Thornton ’12, Chelsea Katz ’12, Peter Forsberg ’12, journalism student Tracey Mighty and medical student Matthew Feinstein
- MMM Food Access — Kellogg students Benjamin Neuwirth ’12, Kunlun Ouyang ’12, Erin Mulholland ’12 and medical student James Antony
- More Burger — Kellogg student Tony Dicks ’11
- Fortified Reasoning — Kellogg students Uzair Khan ’12, Keith Lukasik ’12, Bruce Jang ’11, Megan Hanson ’12 and medical student William Croom
- Foodies — Sonali Lamba ’12, Felicia Chiu ’12, Bridget Gomes ’12 and medical students Danielle Thomas and Vanessa Kiepura