Thanks Everyone


Welcome to the last blog of the project! It has been a long semester, with lots of hard work, but it was fun and it was worth it. We have almost wrapped up our project with the food bank! Having finished our infographic, we now have the report left, where we will outline our process, results, and conclusion in detail.

As the saying goes, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  As a group, we have had many significant moments throughout the course of the project.The weakness of some were covered by the strength of others, and in the end, we learned to overcome some of our flaws we had before coming together. Here we will outline our hurdles in constructing a policy suggestion for the food bank.



Our most significant moment once we had summarized and analyzed our product data was choosing our suggested distribution range. Looking at the data, we found a steep incline once the policy was reduced to anything less than 8 months past the best-before-date. Changing the policy to 12 months past the best-before-date to 8 months showed a product loss of 8%, which would be only 3% over the initial 5% of product loss. We settled on 8 months, as it is a 4 month improvement for members, without a substantial increase in product loss.

We also struggled with the amount of product loss that would be “acceptable.” The balance between product loss and shortening the best-before-date to make for happier members is a tricky seesaw. The food bank has equal responsibility in catering to food disposal ethics, as well as juggling member concerns.

Overall, the experience was quite pleasant working with the food bank, as well as Erin and Kevin, the community partners. It was quite pleasing to see how thorough the inspections were with the donated foods, as to make sure that the donated foods were not damaged, contaminated or expired. But overall, learning about how the food bank works, and seeing how many people it contributes has been a real eye opener. As a group, we learned to be more thoughtful to what we donate to food drives, and we have also portrayed that message to others during our presentation.


So What?

The suggestion had a couple accompanied implications. For example, the difference of 4 months (12 months to 8 months) may not make a difference to members. For them, past the best-before-date may just simply be past the best-before date, no matter how many months past.

Similarly, our data might not be an accurate representation of what the food bank receives as the food bank receives a wide variety of products each month, which is a well-known limitation to our project. For example, some of the streams that we wished to analyze did not donate any products in the month of February. This meant that their data was exempt from our project, although the data may have been valuable, and potentially may have shifted our conclusion substantially.

Now What?

A policy suggestion that moves members towards receiving products closer to their best-before-date is a success in and of itself, especially when the product loss difference is quite trivial at 3%.

This policy suggestion brought us into raising other questions, though. For example, as a group, we realized that member education of the difference between best-before-date and expiry date is crucial to their understanding of receiving products that are past their best-before-date. This project was brought to light due to members having concerns whenever products past their BBDs are distributed. But some members might be okay with the current policy the food bank posses, and could potentially think that throwing out the extra products with the new policy suggestion might be a waste of perfectly good food.

Some other consequences would be having to deal with the increased disposal of canned foods if the food bank does adopt the policy suggestion. Resources such as manual labour and financial aspects goes into the disposal of canned goods  as a separate company has to dispose the unusable food.


Project Proposal and Progress

We have all thoroughly enjoyed the course of our project with the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. It was great to meet and work with the team at the food bank, as well as share ideas and methods for how we could build on the best-before-date policy development. The food bank affects many people, and we have been grateful to take part in such an important venture for the organization.

We recently wrote a project proposal for the food bank, outlining what they can expect from our group, and what we wish to accomplish.

Click here to see our project proposal. (or here)

Figure 1. Food products that need to be added into the data set.

Weekly Objectives

  • Will continue keeping in touch with Erin and determine the next step for our project.
  • Will estimate the number of food that will be eliminated if the accepted distribution date is shortened, based on category and rank of food products’ nutritional quality given by software.
  • Will determine the number of the items that are left will be of “nutritional quality” and the effect on each food category inventory.
  • Will acquire permission to take photos of the Greater Vancouver Food Bank’s interior and exterior for use in group blog and following assignments of the Land & Food Systems 350 course, for instance, final report and presentation.

Achievements to Date (Feb 28, 2018)

  • Completed our project proposal for food bank and got it reviewed by TA. Please check the link above and feel free to leave some comments!
  • Finished scanning and collecting best-before date for 400 food products from each in-bound stream with the help of Erin and Kelvin throughout the month.
  • Manually entered nutrition data shown on the nutrients fact table and ingredients listed on the exterior package for those food products not in the existing database.
  • Obtained data sheet, which includes information of products we have scanned so far, from Kevin.

Moment of Significance

Figure 2. Moments of Significance Graph from Tutorial.

The workshop in our tutorial allowed us to reflect on the specific moments that have occurred throughout the course of the project, and how they affected each of our group members.

What: We all agreed that our moment of significance as a team was receiving our data collection, which we had been building on during the month of February as we scanned items to add into the database. We received an excel sheet that included descriptions of the items, such as the “as_id” that highlights which stream the item belongs to, the “p_id” that shows what the product is based on the system database, a rank ID which shows the nutritional rank, and the product size. We were initially feeling stuck, and relatively overwhelmed, in how we would use this information in order to apply the information to the policy development.

So What: Understanding the data that we had acquired allowed us to develop our skill development, and we began thinking about how we will use this data to help refine the GVFB policy. It taught us that in order to understand something complex, we need to break it down into its components, which is what we did for each of the given ID numbers. As a group, collaborative thinking is important in order to determine how this information will be used efficiently.

Now What: We must now figure out how to use this data set. Communication is key as we govern how the given data set will be used in order for us to create and support the best-before-date policy, which is the most important aspect of our project with the GVFB. Our group would like to achieve the most successful outcome possible. Going forward, we will focus on the specific aspects of the project, starting with how much food waste will be of consequence now that we are eliminating a fraction of food that the food banks distribute to its members.

Figure 3. Kevin working on the data set.

Upcoming Objectives and Strategies

  • Now that we have our data collected, we can use the information given to us by the GVFB and determine the effects of shortening the date of which food is distributed due to  the best before date by 12 months.
  • This would include how much food waste would result and and how it would affect all the members that are currently associated with the food bank. We can use the data set to figure out how much food would not be given out and compare to the previous policy, where the best before date of food distribution has not changed.
  • Interpreting the data set and understanding all of its content will give us an idea of how to project the information to the audience.
  • Keeping in touch with our community members and continue to be involved in the group activities will greatly help in understanding of the data set. As a team, we will collaborate all our skills and ideas to improve in efficiency and to optimise results.


All pictures are permitted by GVFB.


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