How can you build efficient Urban communities, homes, and businesses?

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Central Cafeteria Idea

Could you reduce the cost of food, and provide much healthier options, by having a central cafeteria for a community (a neighborhood) the way a college does? Imagine the cafeteria, within walking distance for all users, paired with an app so the cafeteria learns resident food preferences and has an idea how many people will use the cafeteria on any given day.

Perhaps some residents can help pay for their cafeteria membership by working a few hours per week on food prep. Good training and experience.

You would probably need to make this service optional, but one possibility is including it in HOA fees.

"Food equality" is a big issue. If low-income folks are eating poorly, it shows up in their school performance, health, and even behavior.

In theory, you could lower the cost of food for each family and eliminate the shopping, waste, clean-up, etc. While also improving the quality of the food.

One could also imagine homes with minimal kitchen facilities (fridge, microwave, sink) supported by the central cafeteria. This reduces the cost of the home.

I like it.

It would also bring a sense of community and a way to get to know your neighbors.

I also think a grocery store would help based on Hawk saying there aren't any in poor cities. So accessibility and jobs would help.

Maybe the cafeteria could offer free classes on food prep, diet, nutrition and have focused classes on diabetes, high blood pressure and children, etc...

They could teach kids how to cook and participate in serving the community too and wouldn't it be cool to have celebrity chefs come once in a while to volunteer their time cooking and educating?

This is essentially a Food Co-op with a food bar. Lots exist in urban areas across the country.

Here's one:

Home Page

They're also currently organizing a city-wide Urban Farm Tour coming up in September 2018:

2018 Urban Farm Tour

Good idea, it's very possible to do and it can be done very very efficiently.

The entire operation could be automated:

  • Amazon Fulfillment Center type floor robots moving products from A to B
  • Army of robot arms doing the prepping and cooking
  • Automatic conveyor belts deliver the meals to the people as they come

There would be zero lines and zero waiting, as the app would know people's exact geographic location and could time when they will be arriving approximately.

The technology all exists already, someone just needs to integrate it all together--probably not very profitable to do, but profits are gay anyway. It's 2018, crowdfund and opensource dis bitch u kno wut im sayin cuh ?

thenoakesfoundation.org

You may be interested in the Noakes Foundation. They've been improving the diet and health of poor urban (and rural/suburban) populations at very low cost for years in South Africa (now worldwide).

It doesn't require any new technology or building projects, just the knowledge that it is OK to eat a low carb high fat diet of beef and eggs and other animal fats/proteins.

This would be a great idea to couple with low-cost food delivery for a new community.  It's so much easier for people to use an app or pick up the phone and call for a pizza delivered to them than to cook.  While there are lots of healthy, balanced meal plans that can be delivered to homes, they're often out of the range for lower income people.  I bet a lot of people know how to eat well (not everyone, of course) but just can't be bothered to take the time after a long day of work to cook.

The food costs provided by this cafeteria model would mean you could likely get prices to a comparable level to fast food delivery, but with better nutrition for a community that needs it.

Advertising idea: paint hawks on the delivery vehicles, and have Hawk Newsome endorse it.  Having his brand and charisma tied to a cause that I know he cares about deeply (eliminating food deserts) is a win-win.

It could be staffed by "volunteers" from the community who receive free meals as a benefit for volunteering

I think a critical success factor as mentioned above by "simple keep" is the education component; however this requires dedicated volunteers and mentors.  I volunteer in a program providing parenting education and it is very successful because of the commitment of our mentors.  The recipients of the education and mentoring not only learn but also develop friendships and a sense of community which carries forward to their friends and families.  Distributing healthy food is the first phase, but being able to learn about healthy eating and making healthy decisions for yourself will last a lifetime.

Change Food Stamps and SNAP programs:

Limiting foods to single ingredient foods.  Chicken, fish, eggs, milk, fruit, vegetables...... NOT, sodas, ice cream and chips.  Why are we paying tax $$$ to feed our fellow man garbage? It is horrible for them, it is cruel!

Try a delivery service in a densely populated area with no access to a grocery store. Just imagine how Amazon would handle the task of delivering food to everyone on a food assistance program.  By limiting the foods to single ingredients the number of items in a warehouse are few and easy to manage.

Deliver 2 or 3 times a week. On-line ordering...

 

 

My company is one of the largest foodservice operators in the world - I work in the university sector. For a traditional community cafeteria, you would want to conduct a study to find the most centralized locations (for maximum impact/effectiveness and cost) or maybe offer a free shuttle service for those outside a certain radius. These communities could be run like self-managed co-ops (it sounds as though many already exist). They could even be financially sustainable (as a replacement for food stamps, for example) with some limited gov't subsidization - with any "profits" (cost savings) being reinvested back into the community. To be sustainable in the food service industry requires the ability to manage costs efficiently in a few key areas:
  • Food (Product / Cost of Goods)
    • Management of Food Waste (limit what goes into landfills/compost)
      • Production -> proper training, equipment, oversight
      • Expiration -> FIFO (first in first out) with product rotation/utilization, adopt items with longer shelf lives where it makes sense
      • Talent - Attract smart, local, motivated, experienced food service operators
      • Total waste in an efficient operation will still run in the 1-2% range (much of this could be used for composting/sustainable urban farms efforts)
    • Purchasing (biggest driver in terms of food cost) and the most important factor if your goal is true "food equality"
      • Partner with the biggest broadliner vendors (i.e. Sysco, US Foods, PFG, etc.) by leveraging government subsidies - deals would improve with upward scaling
      • Negotiate bulk-purchasing incentives countrywide with food vendors in exchange for better deals on quality, healthy food (the public sector already does this without gov't backing)
      • You might try to find a way to standardize urban farming across these communities, and while there might be some regional differences, some/all products could be sourced locally - the challenge here would be availability, consistency, and quality
  • Labor
    • Assuming you had "HOA" type fees, labor costs could be substantially minimized if you were relying on volunteers and running more of a self-op NP, but you might still need a budget for training and supervision/security if those roles could not be filled internally (i.e. may vary site to site)
  • Other (in-unit directs or overhead)
    • Rent (possibly n/a)
    • Point-of-Sale (possibly n/a)
    • Equipment (Production/Safety PPE/Security)
    • Uniforms (i.e. single-use gloves, nametags, dishwashing aprons, etc.)
    • Cleaning supplies
    • Much of the above could be purchased at heavily discounted rates through the same purchasing deals outlined earlier
    • Budget for Health/Diet/Safety/Sanitation liability - support for these areas needs to be budgeted for in some way, even if only to provide training and to answer basic questions (like a help line or a coach)

If you could run these like efficient, inter-connected food co-ops there are some considerations.

  • Pros
    • Communities could partner with volunteer dieticians/culinarians to identify healthy foods, best deals, write menus, provide training/oversight
    • Community leaders could play a role in identifying which foods would be healthiest, easiest to source, and be the right fit for their neighborhoods
      • Improves overall well-being & morale, improves access to healthy foods, develops useful life skills
    • Partnerships with local produce/dairy vendors & thru urban farming
    • Best practices could be shared, achievements celebrated by state or country-wide via mail and/or email newsletter
    • Lower investment compared to a full-service restaurant
  • Cons/Challenges
    • Inconsistencies between communities based on local talent pool, resources available
      • Access to support/internet/technology might be limited/difficult or inconsistent
        • limits ability to interact and communicate with other "cafe hubs"
        • Increases possibility of inefficiencies
      • Local/State relationships may not exist yet
    • Food ingredients would need to be viewed at a granular level and standardized across the country / region to get the best deals; yet still provide enough flexibility & variety through localized menus, since eating habits vary greatly
    • Loss prevention - as with any business or subsidy, there's the opportunity for theft/fraud/misuse that would need to be managed internally & audited externally
      • Physical (ingredients, utensils, equipment)
      • Monetary (subsidized funds & "profits")

A lot of opportunities here. I'd recommend looking into some smart business solutions like "CrunchTime" (crunchtime.com) which can help reduce product/labor costs and track usage, provide real-time inventory, etc. The investment and upkeep are a little costly, but many large companies use them to optimize their businesses. Could do something similar or integrated with sensor technology (so when a cooler or freezer goes out at 3 AM someone is notified, instead of losing all that product, for example). Again, the challenge is cost.

Someone at the helm overseeing a state, region, or country-wide system of locations with this sort of technology could provide an additional layer of support. I wonder if something like this could be developed, modified, and made a free tool for low-income communities...

-TR

(Feel free to reach out to me in private)

Quote from ScottAdams on July 30, 2018, 4:59 pm

Could you reduce the cost of food, and provide much healthier options, by having a central cafeteria for a community (a neighborhood) the way a college does? Imagine the cafeteria, within walking distance for all users, paired with an app so the cafeteria learns resident food preferences and has an idea how many people will use the cafeteria on any given day.

Perhaps some residents can help pay for their cafeteria membership by working a few hours per week on food prep. Good training and experience.

You would probably need to make this service optional, but one possibility is including it in HOA fees.

"Food equality" is a big issue. If low-income folks are eating poorly, it shows up in their school performance, health, and even behavior.

In theory, you could lower the cost of food for each family and eliminate the shopping, waste, clean-up, etc. While also improving the quality of the food.

One could also imagine homes with minimal kitchen facilities (fridge, microwave, sink) supported by the central cafeteria. This reduces the cost of the home.