Farm To Fork

Backed by David Paul Belanger, Dr. Daniel Gillis, Aidan Gillis, Chudleighs, Donna Harris, Joel Rabideau, Cathe Lovell, Bang Ly, Nick Deshpande, Rick Chin, Lara, Rich Brown, Clear Path Chiropractic, Lindsay, Stephanie Dixon, and 97 other backers
University of Guelph
DOI: 10.18258/0317
Funded on 5/24/13
Successfully Funded
  • $15,116
  • 100%
  • Funded
    on 5/24/13

About This Project

Ask the Scientists

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What is the context of this research?

The goal of this project is to evaluate the effect of a community engaged open-source website that connects users who are willing to donate, to those who are most in need. Specifically, the project aims to improve the quality and quantity of food donated to local food banks/pantries by providing direct communication between donor and the front-line food security personnel.

To facilitate communication, the Farm To Fork website will provide users with the ability to locate and review nearby food banks/pantries. Given a list of food bank/pantry specific food needs, the user will be able to identify those items that they are able to donate. This will be complemented with a list of food items provided by the user's closest food bank/pantry via automatic email on the day the user goes grocery shopping.

To evaluate the effect of the project, data will be collected to identify changes in donation quantity and quality. These data will be compared to existing baselines where possible. Moreover, weekly, monthly, and seasonal trends will be studied to improve the understanding of the food security issue. This information will be used to update and improve the website, including the development of a mobile application to harness geographically based notifications.

What is the significance of this project?

In a culture that wastes nearly 40% of all food produced, it becomes essential that we connect the people who have fresh food to give to those who need it.

In late 2012, a group of 30 undergraduate students from the School of Computer Science at the University of Guelph began exploring this idea. Co-founded by Dr. Daniel Gillis and Danny Williamson, and in collaboration with the Guelph Food Access Working Group, the students began developing an open-source website known as Farm To Fork. The website would permit front-line food security personnel the ability to communicate directly with those in the community with resources to donate. Over the past 8 months, the students have been actively developing a prototype website using the City of Guelph as a case study.

To determine the effectiveness of the system and its potential utility in other cities, two major hurdles remain:

  • the system needs to be beta-tested over the summer to identify potential programming or design flaws, and
  • the system needs to be launched to the general public (launch date: September 2013).
Successful beta-testing and launch will provide the necessary data to investigate potential changes in donation quality and quantity.

On a personal note, I have never seen students so engaged in a project. To see the Farm To Fork project awarded funds to allow the students to beta-test and launch would be, simply put, fantastic.

What are the goals of the project?

The total cost for this project is $15000. The funds will cover the cost of student personnel, a new server, and expenses related to the Community University Expo in June.

The funds will permit us to beta-test and launch the Farm To Fork website, and to evaluate its effect on the quality and quantity of food donated to the local food banks/pantries. Analyses will be conducted in the fall after sufficient data are collected. The results will be presented to the Guelph Food Access Working Group.

A new server will be purchased to house the website and database. This will replace the existing 10+ year old HP server that is currently in use (and which is failing). Hardware that is up to date and reliable will ensure a smooth beta-testing period and launch.

The funds will also support the students attending the Community University Expo 2013 in June. The conference will permit the students to showcase the Farm To Fork project, discuss the process of developing the website, and provide valuable feedback regarding their experiences with community engaged scholarship.


  • $9,900Personnel
  • $3,100Server
  • $2,000CUExpo Expenses

The total cost for this project is $15000. The funds will cover the cost of undergraduate research assistant (URA) positions, a new server to house the website, and to pay for the cost of student expenses related to the Community University Expo in June.

To properly beta-test the system, 3 half time URAs will be required (May 2013-September 2013). The URAs will be responsible for evaluating user feedback to ensure that the system is fully operational and free of errors by launch date in September. They will also be required to collect data on donation quality and quantity for full analyses in the fall. The total cost of the URAs is $9900.

Presently the system is housed on a 10+ year old HP box. To prevent problems during beta-test and launch, the system needs to be moved to a modern piece of hardware (Mac Mini OS X Server). The server will be securely housed at the University of Guelph in the School of Computer Science. The total cost of the server (including monitor and peripherals) is expected to be approximately $3100, including taxes and shipping.

The Farm To Fork team submitted an abstract to the Community University Expo 2013 late last year. We were honoured to have our abstract accepted as part of the hour-long sessions. To cover student costs associated with attending the event (travel, hotel, registration), we are asking for an additional $2000.

Meet the Team

Dr. Daniel Gillis
Dr. Daniel Gillis
Assistant Professor and Statistician


  • B.Sc. Mathematics, University of Guelph, 2000
  • M.Sc. Mathematics, University of Guelph, 2004
  • Ph.D. Statistics, University of Guelph, 2010


  • I have spent the bulk of my training and career working as part of multidisciplinary teams which have focused on public health assessment, and natural resource management. This has included collaborative projects with the Public Health Agency of Canada, Statistics Canada, Health Canada, Environment Canada, the B.C. Cancer Agency, the SON, McGill University, Laurentian University, and numerous departments within the UG.
  • My research spans the fields of Mathematics and Statistics, Biology, and Computer Science. This includes studying statistical methods for modelling populations with application to ecological and public health risk assessment, and testing sampling designs used to estimate population level parameters. More recently I've become interested in Human Computer Interaction, Software Design, and Community Engaged Scholarship.
  • I founded Farm To Fork with Danny Williamson. Over the past year we have worked with community groups and food security experts, along with 30 senior undergraduate students at the University of Guelph, to develop a system that will improve the quantity and quality of donations to local food banks and pantries. Support the Farm To Fork project.

Additional Information

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Thank you for supporting Farm To Fork.