How Computer Science Can Help Fight Food Insecurity

Two years ago, the students in my CIS3750 class created Farm To Fork as part of their semester long class project. Thirty students worked tirelessly with co-founder Danny Williamson, the folks at the Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship, and our amazing community partners (the Guelph Wellington Food Round Table, and local emergency food providers) to develop a program to improve the quality and increase the quantity of healthy food donated to the emergency food system (such as food banks and food pantries).

F2F Logo IThis year the class has grown to over 70 students, now requiring two separate labs. To facilitate the growth, we’ve opted to take on two community projects – one per lab. I’m excited to announce that the students will be developing websites for local not-for-profits The Appleseed Collective and The Garden Fresh Box program. I’m even more excited that these projects will help the broader Guelph community to ensure that every person has access to healthy food.

The Appleseed Collective

The Appleseed Collective is one of the working groups of Transition Guelph. Every year volunteers work with community members to glean fruits and vegetables that might otherwise go to waste. Harvested produce is then divided between the volunteers, the community members, and local emergency food providers. The students will be working to facilitate logistics, organize and schedule volunteers, improve outreach, and provide community members with useful tools to have their trees and gardens added to the system.

Garden Fresh Box

The Garden Fresh Box program is another group of Transition Guelph. The goal of the program is to bring fresh produce from local farmers to the greater community of Guelph, including those who may deal with food insecurity. The students will develop tools to organize volunteers, distribution of baskets, sales, and the like.

I can’t wait to see what the students come up with this year!

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