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DSM Fellow Shares How A 2021 Capstone Project Could Tackle Food Insecurity with Fish Tacos

Food Insecurity DSM Fellowship

June 11, 2021

2021 Capstone Projects Conclude

For the past four months the DSM Fellows have been hard at work finding solutions to combat food insecurity in our local community. Thursday, May 27 marked the end for the 2021 Capstone Projects when the DSM Fellows gave their final presentations to the DSM Fellowship Program community nonprofits and company sponsors. The presentations were incredible. It was amazing to see all the projects come to life and to know our efforts provided great value in fighting food insecurity in our local community. Thank you to everyone who attended!

Tackling Food Insecurity with Fish Tacos

In a matter of four months, Fellows who partnered with Central Iowa Shelter & Services (CISS) have created a path forward in providing a unique way to fight food insecurity with fish tacos. CISS is a local shelter in Greater Des Moines (DSM) that provides low-barrier shelter, meals and support services at no cost to adults experiencing homelessness and food insecurity. CISS is constantly growing and will be expanding in 2021 with an agrihood, a concept where agriculture integrates into a residential neighborhood, and a greenhouse with the potential to produce dozens of products and meals. The DSM Fellows were tasked with finding a sustainable way to utilize all the fish, lettuce and vegetables being grown in the greenhouse and agrihood. What better way than to create a fish taco food truck! Our group researched and provided CISS with a comprehensive list of ideas to get them started, which included:

  • Considering licensing considerations
  • Researching USDA and FDA regulations
  • Coming up with the “Pesca Fresca” brand (meaning fresh fish/catch)
  • Creating recipes and incorporating them into a build-your-own-style fish taco menu
  • Increasing donations (pay it forward and rounding up)
  • Providing free meals available for those in need
  • Designing an informative pamphlet
  • Anticipating startup costs and return on investment (keeping an expense report)
  • Determining locations and fees

It’s been an amazing opportunity to partner with CISS to create a unique solution in fighting food insecurity. I’m anxious and excited to see our project continue to evolve. I hope someday soon I will be able to walk from work to CISS and grab a fish taco over my lunch break!

Interested in helping out? Learn more about volunteering on their website!

The DSM Fellowship program is the preeminent professional development initiative attracting, developing and retaining a diverse community of top-tier graduates to Greater Des Moines (DSM).

Austin Jensen

Austin Jensen works at Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield as a technology development associate. He recently graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor's degree in Management Information Systems. In his free time, he enjoys biking, traveling, trying new foods and spending time with friends and family.