Kale Bonham is an artist, activist, and teacher. She has been teaching in the Winnipeg School Division since 2012. She received her Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education from The University of Manitoba. Kale has served as Creative Director for the Aboriginal Youth Organization and currently teaches at Argyle Alternative High School in Winnipeg.

Keith Fulford has been a teacher with the Winnipeg School Division since 2008. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from Wilfred Laurier University and a Bachelor of Education from The University of Western Ontario. A skilled lacrosse player, Mr. Fulford is recognized for his innovative approaches to teaching and his work in supporting student academic, emotional, and social growth.

Design Approach

Story was the backbone of our learning process from beginning to end. the story of the Three Sisters helped our students learn the power of narrative. Ultimately the project involved students in examining the question ‘what is a healthy community?’ by experiencing the shape, form and expectations that are cultivated every day in our kitchens.

During this project based learning experience, students explored our food system from cultural, historical, nutrition and design perspectives. The process became our classroom story. It took us from telling, to tasting, to testing, and offered us the opportunity to collaborate and create together.

Understanding the Urban Food Desert through Project Based Learning

Argyle Alternative High School

The term food security and urban food desert have been in the news and media recently. After seeing the map indicating the parameters of an urban food desert, students discovered that their school was located in one.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ manitoba/buying-groceries-a-long- trek-for-family-in-winnipeg-food- desert-1.3345126

What is a food desert?

The Oxford dictionary defines urban desert as, “An urban area in which it is difficult to buy affordable or good quality food.”

The Urban Studies class visited the North Point Douglas Women’s Centre, where they learned that healthy food is not easily available to local residents and that food production within homes is a problem. Nutritious meal preparation is not a common practice because processed, boxed, and microwavable food is more convenient, fast, and familiar.

http://www.northpointdouglaswomenscentre.org

What can we do to help? How can we expand community expectations of what kitchens should be, and broaden our concepts of nutrition?

Our goal became creating a better environment for food security in an urban food desert.

We divided the task into 3 sections:

Nutritional Literacy/Food Security

  • Students made lists of their questions about nutrition, broke into groups and found articles online with answers and shared their findings with the whole class.
  • We visited Feast Cafe Bistro and asked questions about their ingredients and menu. http://www.feastcafebistro.com
  • We also visited Fort Whyte Alive and volunteered to help with the vegetable garden. https://www.fortwhyte.org
  • We prepared a meal using only food from the garden.

A Three Sisters inspired menu

The students designed a Three Sisters soup and got feedback from a
 professional chef. They contributed their soup to a fundraiser for children’s nutrition.

Behaviour/Design

  • Students cooked food in the school kitchen, and applied post-it notes where they encountered problems. (ie: not knowing where important utensils were, not having a measurement conversion chart, not knowing how to use certain kitchen objects, etc.) The post-it notes were then used as inspiration to redesign kitchen materials.
  • Students spent time researching kitchen design and technology to see what is already available and created a list of the top 10 qualities of well-designed kitchens.

Storytelling, Communicating and Message Making

  • We learned about symbol, icon and index.
  • They selected nutritional facts and communicated them by making logos in symbol, icon and index forms. For example, we made 3 decks of cards .

Deck 1 Kitchen objects

Deck 2 Nutritional knowledge

Deck 3 Desirable emotions we seek as humans (love, attention, fun, escape, etc.).

Each student then picked one card from each deck and designed an object that embodied the quality using craft materials. We went outside and brought several hula hoops. We played charades using the decks of cards and hula hoops to become better communicators and observers. We redesigned kitchen materials using objects found on Kijiji and wrote a collective artist statement about the experience. Promotional posters were created to advertise an exhibit of student work in a public gallery.