Eli MacLaren

Written by Eli MacLaren @elithechef eli@bif.is

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“Fulfillment comes when we attach ourselves to activities, not outcomes.” – Michael Samuelson, BIF2015 storyteller

With just over a week of the experimentation phase under their belts, Team Family Well-Being has already fallen into a daily rhythm:

They rise early, meet participating families, and prep the site (which changes daily, hence the new wheels at left). They divide their day: collaborating with families to create the healthy cooking and eating experience, assess participation, and gather feedback. They make smoothies, salads, and pasta. They hone their chopping skills in the prep kitchen, thankfully with minimal casualties. They spend their evenings communicating with families and community partners, and integrating suggested changes into the next day’s plan. Sleep. Wake. Repeat.

As eventful as this daily schedule is, it barely scratches the surface of the first week’s story. In catching up with our team, I heard many anecdotes about families’ integral role in making the model work. 

Before kick-off, the team facilitated a workshop for families to identify their strengths, and to design team-based roles for the experimentation phase accordingly. Families self-selected onto five teams – Design, Marketing & Communication, Cultural Advisory, Curriculum Design, and Logistics & Planning – and they’ve been owning and running with those roles ever since: 

As part of the Design & Marketing teams’ first session, families renamed the model formerly known as Edu-Shoppe What’s Cookin’ Dallas (and, with support from our Digital Media Generalist, designed some snazzy new branding to match).

Parents suggested areas of higher foot traffic and invited friends to participate in the cooking demos. Even the kids got involved, supplementing the marketing strategy with makeshift signs advertising smoothies to passerbys (left). One mom on the Marketing & Communication team noted that the handouts could use some sprucing. After the team integrated her feedback and redesigned them, she nodded, “Now that’s more like it!” 

The Curriculum Design & Cultural Advisory Teams suggested that recipes be adapted to different dietary needs and taste profiles, so the team developed two new lists – “Family Suggestions” and “Healthy Ingredient Alternatives” – to pass out on-site. Checking out the new handouts, a mom exclaimed how useful it would be in adapting recipes for her daughter, who was recently diagnosed with pre-diabetes. Another participant commented that these were changes she’d “always wanted to make, but wasn’t sure how.”

The impact of the model on the elements of family well-being is, in large part, still to be determined. But these stories? Strong evidence of the power of designing, iterating, and executing in partnership with our end-users.

How might relevant, engaging healthy cooking and eating experiences – designed by families, for families – impact the elements of family well-being? Stay tuned, because we’re about to find out.

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