A prize-winning idea for meeting health needs in food desert communities.

After winning a Health 2.0 Code-a-thon in Washington, DC, MAYA was asked by Sanofi US to pilot our winning idea: a text messaging system that would allow consumers in food deserts to order fresh, healthy groceries from a virtual marketplace.

Sanofi was looking for innovative ways to help people manage their health and leveraged MAYA’s expertise in human-centered design to explore and understand consumer needs in these communities. We called this project Food Oasis and set up two pilot sites: one in Cleveland, one in Pittsburgh.


Products & Services

User Research
Analysis & Insight
Experience & Service Design

Prototyping a Business Model

Our goal was to test our assumptions in the real world: could mobile phones (the most ubiquitous technology in food desert communities) be used to pair excess food supply with unmet demand to provide access to healthy food? In practice, those assumptions told only part of the story. Through extensive research into the pilot communities, together with hands-on prototyping and testing of a potential solution, we found that improving health outcomes requires a more holistic and bottom-up approach. While access to food is important, it’s not the only barrier to healthy eating.

The findings from MAYA’s field tests offer Sanofi a richer understanding of food desert communities that they can leverage for future research and product development, ultimately, moving the needle on health care.

Sound like something your organization could use?