Advisor: Amy Csizmar Dalal
The Real Food Calculator (RFC) project at Carleton is part of a larger Real Food Calculator initiative, whose purpose is to help universities and colleges better understand their food expenditures, with the aim of helping them increase the amount of "real food" they purchase (and that students ultimately consume). In this context, "real food" means food that satisfies one or more of the following categories:
The Real Food Guide has more information on each of these categories.
The RFC project at Carleton has been active for a number of years, and has worked with students from courses across the College in various capacities. In particular, they have worked with students from MATH 280 to produce a number of scripts to allow those who make food purchasing decisions at Carleton to analyze how much of their current expenditures fit the "real food" definition, and do a limited amount of future planning and forecasting. While these scripts are potentially useful, they are not user friendly, providing a heavy barrier for the target population to utilize them. In particular, it’s difficult to input new data files, or run variations of the base functionality, without knowledge of R, Python, or the command line. The scripts are also limited in the analyses they can currently conduct for various reasons. This lack of flexibility and usability present a missed opportunity --- one that this project aims to address.
In this project, you will be working with the Real Food Calculator project at Carleton to build an online tool aimed at those making food purchasing decisions at Carleton. The tool will aid food purchasers in making smarter decisions about where and how to spend money increasing the amount and percentage of real food at Carleton Dining Services, by allowing them to analyze present expenditures and forecast the outcomes of future planned purchases, in a clear and intuitive way.
The first part of the project entails identifying and meeting with the stakeholders, and performing a requirements analysis. My preliminary meetings with some of the stakeholders have already uncovered a few initial requirements:
Once the requirements analysis is complete, you will do the following:
This is an academic civic engagement (ACE) Comps project. This means that the Real Food Calculator is our client for this project. In addition to all of the other goodness that you will gain by participating in CS Comps, you will also learn to (1) interact with a real-world client in a professional manner, (2) produce a product that will be used by real people in the real world, and (3) add to the greater sustainability efforts at Carleton.
Clear and appropriately-scoped documentation and instructions.
This project is well suited for students who want to utilize their computer science skills to benefit the Carleton community and who are interested in working closely with clients. CS 344 (Human-Computer Interaction) or CS 100 (Human-Centered Computing) would be nice, but is not required. Similarly, experience working on other ACE projects or with community groups is recommended, but not required.
One of your first tasks on this project will be to identify appropriate sources and resources to guide the design and development process. This literature review should touch on the following areas:
In addition, the Real Food Challenge site has some general information about the project at Carleton.