Klemis Kitchen

Fighting food insecurity for Georgia Tech students by improving the user experience of the on-campus food pantry

Klemis Kitchen design

My Role

Design: Concept sketching, wireframing, prototyping, usability testing

Research: Survey design, semi-structured interviews, affinity mapping, competitive analysis, task analysis


August 2021 - December 2021


Figma, Miro, Qualtrics


Boya Ren, Jessie Chiu, Srijan Jhanwar


Klemis Kitchen serves as a food pantry for Georgia Tech students with dietary needs and financial concerns that limit their access to proper nourishment. The pantry operates by sourcing surplus food from dining halls, local grocers and other donors which can be accessed by students who’ve obtained proper permissions through their ID card.


Due to their lack of online presence and a convoluted onboarding process, Klemis Kitchen’s impact in addressing food insecurity on campus is stifled, with only 122 enrolled students while 10% of Georgia Tech students self-identified as needing food assistance identified in a 2016 study with roughly 27,000 students enrolled at the time.

The current experience utilizing Klemis Kitchen’s services is also lacking, as uncovered by semi-structured interviews with administrators and users. In brief, these issues were in regard to service enrollment, up to date information on food availability, and nutrition details.


A centralized companion application for Klemis Kitchen, offering enrollment services, real-time pantry inventory, recipe suggestions and community engagement brought together in a warm and inviting experience for users.

Klemis Kitchen design


project design process diagram

After landing on Klemis Kitchen as our partner for this project, my team and I set out to work, following a user centered design process from understanding the context of use through prototyping and evaluation. We accomplished this by conducting generative research and building empathy with service providers and users, distilling our research findings down into design requirements, brainstorming ideas and fleshing out selected concepts that meet those requirements through prototyping, and testing our solution. I took the lead in survey design, semi-structured interviews, ideation and prototyping.


research methods diagram

We conducted primary research through surveying current users and interviewing both users and service providers of the kitchen. We also conducted an on-site observation of the pantry to get a better picture of the operations and services provided.

After analyzing survey responses and interview data synthesized via affinity mapping, we discovered common patterns and themes in the data which were then used to inform our design decisions and requirements.

affinity diagram

Key findings from affinity diagramming

1. Users found the onboarding process unclear and fragmented

Low discoverability and lack of online presence of the kitchen make students in need unaware of the resources available to them.

2. There is a need for nutrition labels, expiration information and item availability

Users found it frustrating that expiration labels and dietary or allergen information is missing from much of the stock.

3. Users want to give back to Klemis Kitchen

Users indicated their desire to give back to the kitchen as a way to express their gratitude towards service providers and help improve the kitchen for other users.

4. Users need an improved notification system for incoming donations

Currently, emails containing images of the pantry are the only form of notification, which fails to provide users with key information regarding inventory.

Key findings from on-site observation

photo of recipe printouts in klemis kitchen pantry
Recipe Printouts

Paper copies of recipes are on display in the pantry, providing preparation instructions for meals primarily utilizing items which are commonly found in the pantry.

photo of suggestion slips in klemis kitchen pantry
Suggestion Slips

Users interact with administration and provide feedback and suggestions through handwritten notes in an on-site suggestion box.

photo of inventory management system in klemis kitchen pantry
Inventory Management

After speaking with volunteers on-site we discovered an attempted and ultimately abandoned “checkout” kiosk which had never been used. As such it is difficult to track the current quantity of items in the pantry at any given time.

Defining Design Requirements

To guide our concept ideation process and serve as principles to evaluate against in the usability testing of our design, we established functional and non-functional design requirements based on the data gathered through our semi-structured interviews.

Functional Requirements

Non functional requirements

1. Transparent onboarding

Users have to collect scattered information and engage in cumbersome email exchanges to complete the enrollment process. The solution should provide a straightforward onboarding experience and centralize information pertaining to the service.

4. Capacity

Service Providers indicated that food supply available to the pantry via donations outstrips the pantry’s limited space and manpower, and as such Klemis Kitchen is not able to accommodate more users than it currently serves.

2. Item availability

Currently emails are the only way for Klemis Kitchen to send inventory update notifications which is neither timely nor adequate. With our solution, users should be able to check the latest availability of food and get notified when new inventory is available.

5. Humanity

We discovered that users tend to feel bad about getting food without giving back to Klemis Kitchen. Thus from the humanity perspective, our solution should be capable of providing an environment where users feel comfortable utilizing Klemis Kitchen’s services.

3. Nutrition and expiration

Users need a way to know nutritional information including if items meet their dietary restrictions and food expiration information. Our solution should provide this information in order for users to make informed decisions about using the pantry.

6. Usability

We discovered that the visibility of information in the current system of photos attached to emails regarding inventory is unsatisfactory. Our solution should keep users informed of the availability of items with a minimum cognitive load.


Brainstorming and Ideation

brainstorming gif

With our design requirements supported by research findings in hand, we conducted a brainstorming session and came to a consensus on our top eight design ideas - some more outlandish than others, to be built upon and sketched out for visualization purposes. We then took these eight concepts and voted as a team to decide on our top 3 ideas to move forward with, storyboard and create wireframes for.

Sketched Concepts

concept sketch group track
Group track

Crowdsourcing feature which allows users to update pantry inventory while picking up food.

concept sketch fresh meter

Displays freshness and expiration info of all food items in the pantry with configurable display preferences.

concept sketch cooking track
Cooking 101

Suggests recipes which can be prepared with items found in the pantry.

concept sketch Klemis samaritan
Klemis samaritan

Gamifies volunteering to further expand operations and reward users who enjoy giving back.

concept sketch Food Fighters
Autonomous Inventory Management (A.I.M.)

Sensor and camera-based computer vision solution to inventory management providing real-time stock information.

concept sketch group track
Food Fighters

Visualizes and gamifies users' reduction of food waste to provide positive reinforcement of pantry use.

concept sketch Take your pick
Take your pick

Allows users to select dietary preferences and favorite items.

concept sketch Klemis near me
Klemis near me

Help users locate items across Klemis Kitchen locations on campus.


We created storyboards for two design ideas which satisfied the greatest number of design requirements. This activity helped to contextualize our design ideas and think about potential user flows.

Storyboard 1 - Group Track
group track storyboard

Group track allows users to view updated pantry item availability as well as update stock quantity for other users while in the pantry. This allows users to give back to the pantry and improves inventory management.

Storyboard 2 - Fresh-o-meter
fresh meter storyboard

Fresh-o-meter serves to display expiration and nutritional information of food items. This was one of the core issues for the users of Klemis Kitchen where they have difficulty understanding if something is good for the taking or not, or how long has it been on the shelves in the kitchen.

Visual Style Guide

When establishing a style guide for our design, we came to a consensus that our aim was to create a fresh, warm, inviting and playful user experience. We drew inspiration from colors in fresh fruits and vegetables paired with a clean typeface and icon set.

visual style guide artifact
visual style work session

High Fidelity Prototype

We used all the information and feedback gathered from multiple design concepts and wireframe feedback sessions with service providers and users, integrated that with our design system and started developing our high-fidelity prototype and interactions.

Transparent Onboarding Process

First-time users can get acclimated to Klemis Kitchen and it’s services, complete requisite enrollment process and select their dietary preferences all in one place.

service onboarding gif
Crowdsourcing Inventory

Users can check food availability at a glance from the Pantry home, and take things a step further as users who are physically present in the pantry can update the availability of items to let others know if anything is running out. This also empowers users to ‘give back’ to the pantry and solves for inventory management issues.

crowdsourcing inventory gif
Recipes and Ingredients

Users can browse recipes and view availability of ingredients for each recipe directly on the page. This helps uses better decide what they would like to pick up from the pantry and in what quantity. This promotes healthy eating habits and provides students with better alternatives to the packaged options available.

recipes gif
Community Building at Ease

The community tab provides users with a communal space to engage with other students using the pantry, share their experience and get questions answered. This also provides a central space for admin announcements and streamlines access to notifications and food availability, increasing efficiency.

community gif


User Testing

We evaluated our design by conducting task based tests with 4 participants and fellow product designers which revolved around using key features of the design. The goal of these sessions was to find areas for improvement which we could use to iterate on our design and obtain heuristic evaluation from designers to mitigate usability issues.

For each testing session, participants were given 5 task scenarios and asked to think aloud while performing the tasks to verbalize their thoughts, expressing any delights, misconceptions or confusions regarding any aspect of the prototype.

usability testing session

Results and Recommendations

A summary of takeaways from the these sessions for each task includes:

  • Enjoyed introductory splash screens, felt inviting and provided necesary context about the service and how they’re helping the campus be more sustainable
  • Not enough context for a student who has no previous exposure to Klemis Kitchen

  • Selecting dietary preferences:
  • Participants liked that setting dietary preferences occurred during enrollment and the ability to filter for allergies while browsing inventory
  • Expressed desire to take this a step further and view allergen info on the home page next to each item

  • Adding items to grocery list:
  • Participants thought this was easy to use and appreciated the ability to add items to their grocery list directly from recipes
  • In addition to favoriting particular items, participants indicated wanting to save particular grocery lists

  • Updating availability of items in the pantry:
  • Participants found it easy to identify and update the availability of items
  • But would have preferred having exact quantities of items in stock

  • Enquiring about food freshness:
  • Participants thought the user flow to do this was natural, and usable. Integrating admin issues with community chat ensures info is decentralized.
  • Would have liked to see a way to send private messages to service providers in case they need to talk about anything confidentially.

  • Reflection

    As our partner for this project emphasized their limited resources in both physical space and manpower, this project helped me learn how to design within operating constraints. I also came to understand how to close the gap between partner requirements and that of users through engaging with multiple types of stakeholders throughout the design process.

    As a result of an accelerated timeline for this project, only a minimum viable product was feasible. Given an extended timeframe, I would have liked to conduct on-site usability tests with enrolled users of Klemis Kitchen to get their feedback on the in-pantry experience of updating item availability, as well as iterate further on the design to minimize steps in the onboarding process and flesh out additional features involving volunteering opportunities.

    Thank you for reading!