Trick Or Eat

For the past semester, 91 students in my CIS3750 class have been working with the fine folks of Meal Exchange to develop tools that will help support the nationwide annual Trick Or Eat event. This week they presented their final prototypes to the volunteers responsible for the University of Guelph’s Trick Or Eat campaign.

For those not in the know, Meal Exchange is a nationwide charitable organization that works with universities and university students to help fight food insecurity. One of their programs is the annual Trick Or Eat campaign that sees thousands of Canadian and American university students and community partners going door-to-door to collect food for local food banks and pantries.

Of course, with thousands of participants involved and growing every year, the time required to organize and manage the event has grown significantly. At Guelph the bulk of the work is done the traditional way – paper and pen, and maps pinned to a wall. Countless hours are devoted to making the event a success.

To help simplify the logistics of the event, the CIS3750 students have been working with Meal Exchange and the on-campus Trick Or Eat volunteers to develop:

  • an administrator website where Meal Exchange staff and volunteers can track participants, manage teams, create and edits routes, organize buses, and many other things that are needed to run the yearly event,
  • a participant website, that allows students and community members to learn about the program, sign up, donate, and connect with their team members, as well as allow homeowners to privately identify that they’ll have food to donate, and
  • a mobile application for participants to manage their teams, collect donations, and track their routes the night of the event.

The students have also worked to connect the new Trick Or Eat websites and app to the Farm To Fork system. In this way, participants and donors will be able to learn where local food banks and pantries are, and the types of food they need.

Many thanks to the many Meal Exchange and Trick Or Eat volunteers who contributed their time and energy this semester. And thanks as well to the non CIS3750 students who helped out during the paper prototyping, wire framing, and final demo events. The class would not have been the same without your continuing support.

Of course, even though the students presented their final prototypes this week, the work isn’t quite finished. Over the next few semesters, a subset of students from the class will continue development to finalize each of the projects, with a goal of releasing each before next year’s Trick Or Eat event. I have no doubt they’ll succeed.

Oh – and stay tuned for photos and videos from the class!


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