Sacred Assets: Design for the Food System

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




James Fathers

Second Advisor

Don Carr


Food Design;Food Systems;Human-food Interaction;Interaction Design;UI/UX Design


Food is intimate to every individual and can communicate across cultures. The problem of food access is not technically a problem of lack of food, but largely an issue of income inequality and individual mobility. In Syracuse, every zip code has at least one sector that is considered a food desert. However, the region of Central New York that Syracuse sits is a bastion of food producers, including small farmers which are a keystone for a sustainable future. This project investigates how to expand food access as well as support small farmers by using strategic technologies. There 50 total participants in this study from across three methods: survey (n = 36), semi-structured interviews (n = 8), and user testing (n = 6). This study includes the development of a mobile application named Farm Loop, which empowers farmers to sell directly to consumers via an online retail platform or to the emergency food system for a lower price. This application has a system design that uses a business model that creates a community fund that expands food access and pays farmers. This supports both the small farmer with additional revenue streams while expanding food access.


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