EUGENE, Ore. — A group of students from the University of Oregon worked to make food more available to parts of Eugene with the most need, Sunday. The architecture students spent the past year designing a pop-up food pantry, creating a mobile food bank.
The students debuted their mobile food pantry in the Whitaker neighborhood. It may look like just a wooden shelving unit, but to the students it’s much more than that.
“We wanted something that was more interesting than just a plain box shelf,” said student designer Madison Jackson.
The class’s associate professor said he wanted to figure out a way to bring food to those in need.
“How can design solve the solution of the adaptivity of deployment of whether you’re inside, outside, different climatic and environmental conditions,” said Philip Speranza, associate professor at the University of Oregon.
While some students focused on designing mobile shelving units, others worked to find where this project could get the most use.
“Using geographic information systems to map the USDA food desert criteria, income levels and accessibility to local foods, healthy fresh foods,” Speranza said.
Jackson came up with the design; and while it started out as a class project, it turned out to be much more than that for her.
“Having this built has really been satisfying for me and I feel like it’s my little baby pet project and I’m really excited about how it turned out,” Jackson said.
Although the group chose the Whitaker area, it was not the only neighborhood that met the USDA qualifications for a food desert, meaning an area with no close grocery stores and a number of people living below the poverty level. Both the Skinner’s Butte area and West University neighborhoods also qualified as food deserts.
The group hopes the design not only made an impression on their teachers, but the communities who rely on it.