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DTL Program

10 Oct 2023 5:10 AM | Sewa International (Administrator)

Team: Boston/Maine #1
Team Members: Sriram Munnangi, Ajay Gali, SriRam Juttu
Reviewed by: Ashish Patel , Hemanth Tanwar, Anupama Kapoor
Date Published: Oct 10 2022

There has been a growing population of immigrants and refugees in our state, and the government has struggled with housing and feeding these groups of people. The state partnered with some hotels in various cities in Maine to house the immigrant and refugee population. Some recent immigrants who struggled to pay for food and make a living were allowed to be housed in the hotels as well. Because there is a struggle with getting food to all the people housed in the hotel, we wanted to create a plan to utilize existing resources and form a system to get food around to each hotel.

When we first started the Design to Lead program we didn’t know exactly what we wanted to do. Based on the list of ideas that the core team provided to us, we thought about investigating food insecurity among immigrants. We knew about the population of immigrants because we’ve been seeing more and more immigrant kids at our schools. Our team had a group discussion about what our need area should be, and we decided that we would focus on immigrants. We began researching this topic and found dozens of articles to find our stakeholders. We learned about the city’s efforts with housing the immigrants, and a few stakeholders who have helped. With the aid of the core team, we created a stakeholder map and filled it with all the information we gathered. As a team, we gathered contact information for stakeholders and began reaching out to them for interviews. We were able to get a couple interviews with some stakeholders, which really helped us with adding need statements to our miro board.

In the second phase of DTL, we completed investigating our need area. To begin, we first ranked our 30+ best-need statements via. many bases such as feasibility and efficiency as we narrowed the vast array down to five of the very best need statements, which we then filtered to the top three. After that, we analyzed these solutions with ranking criteria that we developed with the help of the core team. Our group had a meeting to see which need statement was the best by ranking them in each criteria category. With our top three need statements, we had to develop solutions and prototypes for them. We cycled through many ideas like using social media to promote the program or putting it on our school’s website. After this extensive process, however, we needed to do even more. The solutions we came up with needed various steps for approval including, but not at all limited to contacting determined stakeholders to follow up with our plan to start a food donation program. 

In phase 3, we began implementing our project. We created a food donation program with the assistance of the Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition (MIRC). With the help of this system, we delivered cooked meals to immigrants/refugees housed in hotels and our preferred hotel was Howard Johnson. We helped cook the meals with chefs who, with the approval of MIRC, were working at the hotels. The Organization also utilized large food companies like Tyson which have food plants in Maine to donate batches of food for the program. All in all, we implemented the prototype and received positive feedback from the immigrants. We are still trying to continue with this program, to ensure its sustainability.

In conclusion, to achieve our goal of helping those in need, especially immigrants with a lack of resources, we decided to try our level best to positively impact in an overall attempt to decrease the rates and numbers regarding food insecurity in immigrants through the utilization and use of design, or the Stanford University Biodesign methodology, the process taught to us by the Design to Lead program via. Dr. Anurag Mairal. We made a proper plan to help solve this problem and at least try to make a tiny dent and do as much help, which is very little, in this universal, critical, and current public issue. First, we researched stakeholders and determining questions. We then brainstormed our problems, needs, and outcomes. We also thought of many, many need statements which we narrowed via. various filters to find the best for which we found solutions and prototypes. Finally, and last but not least, we implemented our program with huge success. Right now, however, we are working on sustaining this progress. overall, we have learned much through this lengthy, yet very beneficial process. Although we had put in a lot of time and work, it was all worth it in the end, as we have developed an ultimately working program that is helping the lives of many individuals. We hope that our efforts don't go to waste and that this program will only continue to assist others, both directly and indirectly, and in minor and major ways.

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