picture of foodmunity's local view interface



Foodmunity is the name of a concept for an online social networking tool that focuses on connecting neighbors in a community through food. It was designed in response to the CHI 2011 Student Design Competition, which focuses on designing “an object, interface, system, or service intended to help us appreciate our differences.”

With Foodmunity, members of a community can set up food related, themed events for their neighbors to join. Foodmunity helps keep track of the mundane aspects of event planning, such as the entrĂ©es and sides that will be served at the event, who will be attending the event, and which attendees are bringing which entrĂ©es, so that event attendees can focus more on who their new acquaintances are. By bringing members of a community together in a comfortable environment, Foodmunity attacks the problem of “appreciat[ing] our differences” in a subtle way. Blatantly pointing out the differences in others is less effective than bringing different people together for a mutual experience.

Project Responsibilities

  • Team facilitation
  • Interviewer
  • User test facilitation and documentation
  • Prototyper (paper and PowerPoint)

Project Timeline

October 21, 2010 – February 12, 2011

Team Mates

Kevin Walorski
Jeff Wain
Shad Gross

Design Process

The design for Foodmunity resulted from a series of concept expansions and contractions. The description for the CHI2011 Student Design Competition was intentionally vague, so the first step for us was to define the scope of our project. We used an affinity diagram to get a feel for the possible directions our project could go and then to narrow our options, eventually resulting in the focus on diversity of food. We decided early on in the process that diversity appreciation does not come from pointing out the differences in others but from actual experience with another culture, viewpoint, or person of a different background.

The next expansion phase came as a series of interviews with students and experts on diversity. From those results we chose to focus on how food can be used as a vehicle for interaction between people. The final expansion/contraction phase focused mainly on concept generation using personas and various brainstorming techniques. From our list of generated concepts we chose Foodmunity, an experience that involves having strangers in a community interact with each other in a comfortable setting.


The Foodmunity site was initially tested with a paper prototype placed under peer review in a class setting. After several iterations, we developed a PowerPoint prototype and tested it with multiple potential Foodmunity users. We also conducted a contextual inquiry of an event similar to those that would be set up through Foodmunity. We found a local, themed event that was open to strangers or new acquaintances and focused on food related to the theme. The observations and insights pulled from that contextual inquiry influenced further iterations of our design.

Current State

We will be presenting a poster at the CHI2011 Student Design Competition.


  • Affinity Diagramming
  • Brainstorming and Ideation
  • Contextual Inquiry
  • Paper Prototyping
  • Personas and Scenarios
  • Powerpoint Prototyping
  • Sketching


CHI2011 Student Design Competition sumission (CHI 2011 Student Design Competition finalists)