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Five Senses: Immersive Dining

Empower students struggling with food insecurity to thrive at Indiana University.

Research: Competitive Analysis, Interview, Survey, On-site Observation
Ideation: Persona, Journey Map, Ecosystem
Design: Low-Fi & Hi-Fi Design, Testing, Iteration, Prototype

Research & Early Ideation: Xinran Peng, Qiange Tang, Ruwen Hu, Prangan Kashyap, Kelly Lucksanawichien

Additional Research, Ideation, Design, Testing: Xinran Peng

​My Role

Phase 1

Phase 2


Many Indiana University students are experiencing food insecurity, yet the school's existing services to combat it are under-promoted and underused, resulting in wasted resources and ongoing struggles for students.

How might we create a platform that connects students in need to on-campus resources?


How might we build a self-sustaining ecosystem that can continue to benefit more students?

Apply for Meals

  • Students experiencing food insecurity can apply to receive free meals from the school

  • Based on their eligibility, students can receive their meals within 24 hours

Explore Resources

  • Indiana University offers a wide range of student services

  • Students can find all on-campus resources here and visit their websites

  • They can also share useful articles on their social media

Volunteer & Earn Free Meals

  • Students can explore volunteering opportunities

  • Choose timeslots based on availability

  • Every 3 volunteer coins = 1 hot meal at any IU dining halls

Use Your Meal in Dining Halls

  • Students can scan their IU ID Card to eat at any dining halls like everyone else without worrying exposing their situation to others

Research & Design Process Overview

Secondary Research

Through our research of papers and data published on government websites, we gained insight into the issue of food insecurity among college students. Our findings indicate that:

  • 1 in 10 Bloomington residents cannot access the foods they need

  • 38% of students at two-year colleges experienced food insecurity, along with 29% of students at four-year colleges

38% of students at two-year colleges experienced food insecurity, along with 29% of students at four-year colleges

Competitive Analysis

There are several existing apps and websites that tried to address the food insecurity problem in small communities and colleges. But they all have significant drawbacks:

Community Compass

  • Indiana community based

  • Only offers food bank / free meal information

  • No student-oriented contents


  • Connect small businesses with people facing food insecurity.

  • Heavily relying on donations. 

  • Unsustainable business model.

Swipe Out Hunger

  • College student-oriented.

  • Students donate extra meal points to others in need.

  • Heavily rely on donations.


According to U.S. News, there are 4 major ways colleges tackle food insecurity: 1) Food Pantries; 2) Meal Swipe Donations; 3) Community Partnerships; 4) Federal Resource.

Due to the scale of the challenge and the complexity of the social issues involved, the aforementioned apps/websites typically only address one of these strategies. 

However, as this app is intended for use solely on the Indiana University campus, it has the flexibility to integrate multiple on-campus resources to combat food insecurity.

Stakeholder Interviews & Observations

IU Dining Hall

​In order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the food insecurity situation at Indiana University (IU), we reached out to two key stakeholders: the director of Crimson Cupboard, an on-campus food bank, and the manager of IU dining hall. 

Crimson Cupboard
(on-campus food bank)

Our goal was to obtain insights into the factors that contribute to it and the populations that are most affected. We were particularly interested in learning about the strategies that Crimson Cupboard has implemented to address food insecurity on campus, as well as any challenges or barriers that they have encountered in this work.

(on-campus financial service)

we also reached out to an expert from MoneySmarts, an on-campus financial services resource that offers financial advice and guidance to students. Our conversation with this expert allowed us to gain a deeper understanding of the financial challenges that students at IU may face, including those that may contribute to food insecurity.

User Interviews & Surveys

User Interviews (3 interviews)

As part of our research, we conducted interviews with five IU students, exploring their experiences with on-campus resources and services, as well as asking them to imagine what they would do and where they would seek help if they were to experience food insecurity. These interviews provided valuable insights into the student perspective on the issue, helping to shape our approach and inform the development of an effective solution.

User Surveys (52 responses)

In addition to our interviews, we conducted an online survey with 52 IU students, collecting data on their eating habits, experiences with on-campus resources such as Crimson Cupboard, instances of food insecurity, and what might stop them from seeking help. This survey provided quantitative data to complement our qualitative findings and helped to validate our insights.


Once we had gathered data from stakeholders and students, we undertook a thorough analysis, organizing our notes and employing affinity diagramming techniques to identify common themes and recurring issues. We were able to generate valuable insights that would help us move forward in developing an effective solution to combat food insecurity on campus.

Low-Fi Wireframes

To help visualize and refine these solutions, I created low-fidelity wireframes, which provided a simple but effective way to illustrate the various features and functionalities of our proposed solution. 

I tested the low-fidelity wireframes with three users and gathered valuable feedback to help me move forward and sought out many problems.

Site Map

After receiving user feedback, I reevaluated my approach and narrowed my target audience to receivers, prioritizing their specific needs by providing the necessary resources. I gained a clearer understanding of the app's intended purpose. 

I redesign the site map, which served as a fundamental structure for the final product.

User Testing Feedback

After testing the prototype with three users, I collected their valuable feedback and identified 3 major problems. This helped me to iterate and improve the design, ensuring that the final product meets the needs and expectations of the users.

Focus on One User Group

  • Narrow down the scope

  • Focus on receiver uer journey

  • Provide resources for receivers

  • Think about user needs

Design and Layout

  • Visual design needs consistency 

  • Conduct usability testing for differen designs

  • Consider industry conventions

Possible Barriers

  • Think about users in different scenarios

  • User psychology and social aspects

  • Possible stigma related to food insecurity: privacy concerns

User Persona

User Experience Map



On the homepage, in the sketch, I put the Weekly Highlight on the top. But during the user testing, I received the feedback that the most important section, which is Apply for Meals should be the primary focus on this page. I then tried out different layouts so it doesn't look like an ad banner, and added information about Volunteering as well.  


The volunteering section went through several iterations. At first, I added on-campus events as a way to attract "donors", and then developed a token system for them to redeem event tickets. After user testing, I realized that having 2 separate user journeys doesn't really work out. So I transformed "Events" to "Volunteer", keeping the idea of earning tokens to redeem free items, which is free meals in the refined design to meet the needs of students with food insecurity.

Resources Page

In the "Resources" section, I have compiled a comprehensive list of on-campus and community resources for students seeking additional support. Taking user testing feedback into account, I incorporated a Map View feature to help users easily navigate and locate resources in their vicinity. To further enhance the user experience and ensure that individuals find the most suitable resources for their needs, I implemented a filtering system, allowing users to pinpoint the resources they need.


Reflection and Future Scope

In the real world, my project may encounter several potential challenges. The most significant obstacle is the imbalance between the demand for resources and the supply available. As food insecurity is a pervasive issue on campus, the students' needs may exceed what the school can offer. Although I attempt to address this problem by incentivizing students to volunteer on campus in exchange for meals, this approach may not be practical due to students' already busy schedules and potential part-time jobs.

A potential solution involves seeking government support and funding from the community. There have been legislative efforts in other states to tackle food insecurity on college campuses, which provides hope for the future.

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