Be The Change

Posted on Friday, March 20th, 2015

Written by Dan Gillis

The School of Computer Science is proud to announce that three SoCS students and their community partners were awarded the University of Guelph's Student Life's Be The Change award, and the Emilie Hayes Community Partnership award.

Corey Alexander (currently enrolled in the Master's Computer Science program), Oliver Cook (undergraduate), and Lee-Jay Cluskey-Belanger (alum) were awarded the Be The Change award for their work on the Farm To Fork project. The award is handed out each year to members of the University of Guelph community who are affecting positive change in the world.

Alexander, Cook, and Cluskey-Belanger, along with 27 other students, began working on the Farm To Fork project in 2012 as part of the CIS3750 Systems Analysis and Design in Applications course. The aim of the project was to develop a website that would allow emergency food providers (e.g. the food bank and other food pantries) to create a list of needs that would be sent to potential donors the day they typically went grocery shopping. Over the course of the semester, the class would learn about the issue of food insecurity in Guelph (and beyond), and that many emergency food providers could accept fresh fruits and vegetables.

Community partners Kate Vsetula (Community Health Manager for the Guelph Community Health Centre, and former co-chair of the Guelph Wellington Food Round Table), and Lisa Needham (Public Health Nutritionist for Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, and former co-chair of the Guelph Wellington Food Round Table), were awarded the Emilie Hayes Community Partnership award. This award is given to community members and not-for-profit organizations who have partnered with staff or faculty to provide a unique learning opportunity for students.

Lisa and Kate worked with the CIS3750 class to develop the Farm To Fork website, and continued working with several students (including Alexander, Cook, and Cluskey-Belanger) who were enrolled in senior undergraduate independent study courses. They offered their expertise in food systems and food insecurity, and also took part in prototyping sessions, beta-testing, and finally launching the website in October of 2013.

Since that time, Corey, Oliver, Lee-Jay, Kate, and Lisa have worked to improve the website, increase awareness about food insecurity, and have begun development on a mobile app that will alert donors to the needs of the emergency food providers the minute they step into a grocery store or market.

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