At the beginning of the project, Costa Rica’s coastal town experienced a vacuum of tourists. People were left without jobs or government support in the blink of an eye. Hunger was a real danger for many families relying on tourism to provide for their families. Those of us, usually foreigners, who found ourselves in somewhat stable financial positions began organizing food boxes for 90 families in town. The goal was clearly communicated; get food to those who otherwise would go hungry! The stakeholders were many single mothers and many families whose primary breadwinner had lost their job. The project planning was pretty rough as we had to collect food in an area where most people, aside from the retirees, couldn’t spare much. We also needed to designate drop off areas and determine how we could allocate the limited resources. Pretty high standards were created as many men who had already been out of work and living on the street before the pandemic wanted free food. We didn’t have enough for everyone so we required proof of prior income. It was very difficult for the organizers to have to turn people away but we really wanted to make sure kids had food over those who had spent years on the street. Two main barriers were a) getting the food from the retiree community (who was following the shelter-at-home mandate) and organizing/distributing the food in a hygienic way. The third big barrier was when it came time to end the program; it was with little notice and it went from a box of food one week, to nothing the next. The end of the program had a lot more to do with volunteer burn-out rather than diminished need. According to Knolskape (2013) a project has the following phases: initiate, plan, execute, monitor, and close (1 m. 56 s). I think the food box project was missing the monitor part of the project and could have improved greatly on it’s closing. According to Conway et al. (2017) this could be considered a tame problem as it had a rational and linear way to the solution (p. 13) and it only had three stakeholders: those in need, those who gave, and the organizers. I think a lot of assumptions were made on what things people needed. Next time, those in-need should be consulted on what they viewed as essential in their household as some things like diapers or baby wipes were not provided.
Conway, R., Masters, J., & Thorold, J., (2017). From design thinking to systems change: How to invest in innovation for social impact. Royal Society of Arts, Action and Research Centre.
Knolscape, (2013, June, 13). Introduction to Project Management. [Video] .https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOU1YP5NZVA