UBC Undergraduate Research

The Effect of Discrete Ordering via Ballots on Price Selection at the UBC Fooood Café Bragg, Sophie; Dierkes, Tillman; Fisher, Mallory; Ma, Candice


Fooood is a non-profit, choose-what-you-pay café on the University of British Columbia (UBC) campus with a three-tier pricing system (i.e. $5/$10/$15). The café is a resource for food insecure individuals because nutritious meals are made available at a subsidized price. Normally, customers convey their price option to the cashier by pointing to an informative poster describing the price choices. For this research, ballot-ordering was implemented for one week as an intervention to promote privacy in the ordering process, as embarrassment and shame are noted barriers to accessing food resources. Literature review, survey results and experimental data (i.e. ordering data of the ballot and non-ballot weeks) were used to evaluate the hypothesis that customers would select the lowest price option at Fooood more frequently when ordering was achieved via ballot. Survey results found that 63% of respondents chose a less healthy meal for financial reasons on a weekly basis. The experimental data shows that there was a slight, but insignificant, increase in $5 meals ordered during ballot implementation. We recommend that Fooood further evaluate the attitudes that customers have towards Fooood's ordering process so that operational changes can be made targeting potential barriers to accessing the resource e.g. fear of judgement. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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