Project Description

Society’s biggest challenges won’t be solved by government, not-for-profits or communities alone. Successfully addressing these complex social, environmental and economic challenges requires an ecosystem approach that enables key stakeholders, whole communities, academics, entrepreneurs and innovators to come together and cocreate replicable and scalable solutions.

In 2016, Doing Something Good ran a 10 week accelerator program for ventures and community projects aimed at making Melbourne’s food system healthy, sustainable, secure, resilient and socially inclusive. Building on a program of events that started with the EcoCity Food Forum in 2013, the second Local Food Launchpad program in 2016 worked with 15 participants to develop 11 concepts that hold the potential to improve our food system and build a better food future for the people of Melbourne. This is one of them.

Learn more about the 2016 Local Food Launchpad here. Discover other Local Food Launchpad projects here.

How might we make it easier for university communities to procure, cook, share and eat fair and sustainable food on campus?

Fair Food UniCycle

Rolling out a better food system – meal by meal, wheel by wheel.

The big issue

Millions of dollars of food is consumed on university campuses every year and little attention is paid to the quality of this food. Thousands of events are run, often serving unhealthy, industrial food while producing tons of packaging waste and food waste. While university students are a captive audience little effort has been made to educate them about healthy, fair and sustainable food skills which they can take with them through the rest of their life.

We believe we can change this

If we can provide an easy-to-use holistic event kit that solves the problems of food procurement, disposable serving ware and waste management we can shift behavior and spending towards sustainable practices and supporting fair, local economies.
We can equip students with the ability to cater with healthy, seasonal, local, fresh and fair food. Further, we can teach them about food waste avoidance, organic composting and recycling. Doing this in a university setting allows us to couple our supply chain solution with an education and behavior change campaign to equip the next generation of students with lifetime fair food skills and transform each student that eats lunch through our program into a fair food advocate. Once this system is developed and refined it can be replicated at campuses (and other institutional environments) across the country.

How we plan to do it

We are building a hireable cargo bike and fair food system that takes all the stress out of catering an event for clubs, societies, staff and student groups at universities. Through our booking system (partnered with the Melbourne Farmers Markets) groups can order local food, arrange pick up and borrow the cargo bike to take to on-campus events.

The bike can be ridden to the an outdoor bbq or faculty function space. The back of the bike unfolds to become a serving and/or cooking station, and hirers can use the reusable plates, cups and cutlery. The bike is equipped with a sink so hirers can wash the plates, a recycling bin and compost bin to deal with any waste produced during the event.

The bike will come with resources to help hirers learn more about nutrition, local and fair food and how to manage food and waste sustainably.  

Where we started

We started with an idea of wanting to engage University students with the weekly on campus accredited farmers market through building a vegetable box system. We however quickly realised that it was time to ‘think out of the box’ and there were sexier models which would allow us to reach a wider range of staff and students in a fun, community driven atmosphere, whilst encouraging a long term behaviour change towards consuming local, fair and sustainable food.

There is huge potential in tapping into this market through offering the most convenient service, whilst ensuring that these groups are accessing nutritious, sustainable, local and fair food.

What we learned

Veggie boxes are not our solution (and we assumed they would be much easier to implement than reality)! Out of the box thinking helps to create simple yet effective solutions to a challenging problem. Student, staff and clubs & societies’ events are often poorly catered. There is huge potential in tapping into this market through offering the most convenient service, whilst ensuring that these groups are accessing nutritious, sustainable, local and fair food. Convenience and ease of access is key! We believe good food behaviour is built up through positive social experiences and a core part of our project is making fair food fun. If we can embed behaviour change communications in positive experiences we believe we can do more to create tangible change and create a generation of fair food advocates in Australian universities.

What’s next

The next step is to gain funding and build a prototype of a Uni-Cycle and to secure in-kind donation in the way of space and partnerships from our host institution, Melbourne Uni. We need to lock in supply from local food producers and build a community of users. Once the model is proven we can open-source the system to be replicated by other student groups.

What we need

We are already have significant interest from staff and student groups and are looking for $25000 (or in-kind support to get the system fully functioning by March next year.

  • Custom built cargo Bike – $5000
  • Branding and collateral – $2500
  • Fridge and Freezer – $ 3000
  • Portable cooking station – $1, 500
  • Utensils – $500
  • Cleaning Kit – $500
  • Reuasbale servingware (500 pces) – $4, 000
  • Project manager – $5000
  • Promotion and web ordering system – $3, 000  

This will allow us to purchase and develop the necessary tools to ensure we can extensively cater for clubs and societies along with staff, student and University of Melbourne events.

A little about us

Sophie Lamond (left) is completing her Masters in Sustainable Food Systems and beginning her PhD on food corporations and corporate social responsibility in December 2016. She is the founder of the Fair Food Challenge which seeks to improve Australia’s university food environments, develop fair food policies for institutions and teach the next generation sustainable food skills. Sophie writes about food issues, facilitates community food events, runs a community kitchen and curates Gastronomica Apocalyptica – a speculative dinner party that invites eaters to contemplate the future of food. She writes a monthly newsletter called Bite-Sized.

Cip Hamilton (right) currently works at Melbourne Farmers Markets in Communications, and manages the Farmers Market at the University of Melbourne. Cip has recently completed her Masters in Environment focusing on food systems and behaviour change, and she aims for a zero waste life from organic waste to plastic. On the weekend you can find her at a farmers market and discussing all things food (particularly sustainable seafood and the joys of shopping locally).

Like to know more or want to work with us? Please get in touch.

Our website http://bit.do/unicycle

Email Sophie at info@fairfoodchallenge.com

Phone Sophie on 0432 040 931