Roberta MacAdams School 
Food Drive

A Story
My name is Vanessa McLeod and I am a teacher at Roberta MacAdams School. 
I was lucky enough to bring my students to City Hall School, an incredible week long inquiring minds field experience with Linda Hut. It was through this experience that I learned about the City of Edmonton's Open Data Team and the interesting work they do collecting and displaying interactive data about our city!

How It Began

It started with a simple question while we were reading a book about poverty.
“What’s the food bank?” one boy asked. During the discussion that ensued, it was clear that although many of the students had heard of the Edmonton Food Bank, many of them didn’t have a clear picture of what it was, or the services they provide.




This led to us spending some time learning about the Food Bank and a request by the students to take a field trip there. After having a chance to visit the Food Bank the students were inspired to take action and make their own contribution to this valuable service. As part of our year long focus of the big idea of being citizens who “Connect. Engage. Inspire” the students wanted to make sure that they had an active role in the food bank drive and raise awareness about the Food Bank to other students in our school.
One thing I’ve learned from working with these students this year, is that when they get passionate about an issue, it’s full force ahead! This quickly turned into a big cross-curricular project that involved social studies, math, health and language arts. First up, we decided to set a goal. We did this by looking at how many people were in our school as well as how much a basket of non-perishable food items weighed. We used this data as a reference to set a lofty goal. Our students set a goal of raising 1200 food items or 500 kg of food.
They then made presentations to each class about the Food Bank as well as what their most needed food items were.
They shared what they learned from their visit to the Food Bank, including some startling facts that each month over 22,000 people use the food bank and of those 40% are children.
This really hit home for them.

Data Is Cool!

We decided to sort and graph the items according to the most needed items by the food bank. During our food bank drive, the students were in charge of collecting the items brought in each day, sorting them, counting them and weighing them. We began looking for trends. We were curious to see which items we collected the most of.
We discovered in the first couple days that we were collecting a lot of pasta and soup, but not much fruit or peanut butter and that this trend continued throughout the week. We wondered if this was often the case in food bank drives and if so perhaps people may want to consider donating peanut butter and canned fruit in the future.
We would love to compare our data with other schools and organizations that hold a food bank drive.

What Happened Next?

The City of Edmonton's Open Data Team, who are lucky enough to talk about data frequently at the City Hall School, heard about our project and wanted to put it on their Open Data Portal. They told us that it is an excellent example of just how easy it is (and fun!) to collect data and show the hard work we did to help others in the city.

Below are two charts showing the results of our Food Drive.
Hint : hover your mouse over the graph for even more information!

You too can play with this data we collected by going to the dataset (table) itself. Click here to do that and have fun!
One last thing - clicking here will take you to a page where there are some video-tips on how easy it is to use this site.