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Student Work: Project – Volunteering in Food Services (Middle)

Due to the ongoing Covid pandemic and the many regulations instituted by federal, state, and local governments, many establishments such as hospitals, food pantries, and senior centers do not have an adequate number of volunteers to serve food. Project VFS provided volunteer services to serve food at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Canton Food Pantry and Canton Senior Center so that eligible people can have access to nutritious food in the neighboring towns of Canton. With a $500 grant from Sodexo, Project VFS was able to sign up several volunteers for Global Youth Service Day and serve hot food for the people in need.

Additional Information
Student: Pranav (Massachusetts)
Division: Middle
Competition: 2022 International Conference (First Place)
Project Elements: The student used our problem-solving process to develop their project proposal. Then he focused on implementing his action plan while documenting his progress in a project report and supporting materials: a portfolio, interview, and promotional video.
Evaluation Highlights: At the world finals, students receive feedback from a team of evaluators. See highlights of this student’s feedback for each element at the end of the article.
Original Formatting: See the written project documents with their original formatting in attached PDFs below.

Supporting Materials

Promotional video

Project VFS created an informative promotional video. The inclusion of video clips from the news shows the importance of the project to viewers and the community.

Proposal

Area of concern

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

Volunteering is time willingly given for the common good and without financial gain [1]. Volunteering is important because it offers the crucial help that is needed in causes that hold value, but most non-profit organizations and charities are only partially funded. Therefore, most organizations bank on the generosity and compassion of the volunteers to extend help to the needy[2]. In 2017, approximately 64 million Americans, which is around 25% of the adult population, volunteered their time, talents, and energy to making a difference in other people’s lives. The 2016 national value of volunteer time is $24.14 per hour. In other words, the time value of Americans’ contribution to volunteering in their communities is $193 billion. On average, people spend an average of 52 hours per year volunteering their time. The top four national volunteer activities are food collection or distribution (24.2%), fundraising or selling items to raise money (23.9%), general labor or transportation (18.8%), and tutoring or teaching (17.9%) [3].

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed many different challenges to organizations working with volunteers, particularly for those that had pre-existing formal volunteering programs in place before the pandemic. 12% of the responding Volunteer Involving Organizations (VIOs) said that programs involving volunteers have ceased permanently. 61% said that they had to temporarily pause programs involving volunteers, and 31% said that such programs have reduced in scale [4]. When volunteers were asked about the barriers preventing them from volunteering, the fear of being exposed to illness remained the single greatest concern [5].

Advocates to end hunger say that they are becoming increasingly concerned about how they are going to get food to millions of vulnerable Americans, especially in COVID-19 “hot spots” across the country. The pandemic has exacerbated this issue for food banks, food pantries, senior centers, hospitals, and soup kitchens to provide food services due to the decrease in volunteers who were discouraged by the many restrictions and rules placed by the federal, state, and local governments and other agencies [6].
Even in my own town of Canton, the senior center that serves seniors in our town had to curtail many of their luncheon and dinner programs due to the ongoing restrictions placed by our town board of health. In addition, HESSCO Services, which runs their Meals on Wheels program [7] from Canton Council-On-Aging, has restricted their programs due to the lack of volunteers and the new protocols that are in place to ensure the health and safety of both consumers and volunteers. Also, our town food pantry had to reduce its hours due to restrictions and the lack of volunteers.

My neighborhood hospital, Newton-Wellesley Hospital (NWH), depends on volunteers [8]to provide high-quality care to the neighborhood communities, but has lacked volunteers to serve food to the hospital staff and visitors. Due to the strict vaccine mandates, many volunteers chose not to serve in the hospital as well. Several other hospitals were also forced to suspend many of their volunteer programs and the absence of volunteers was felt throughout the hospital community. Food services was one of the most affected volunteer programs due to the shuffling of volunteer resources and strict regulations [9].
Volunteering to serve food and food-related activities is vital because it is a meaningful path to help our communities grow and thrive [10]. Most importantly, volunteering to serve food provides food to families in need, while creating meaningful experiences for volunteers, demonstrating a commitment to a cause, and helping individuals make progress towards achieving key social goals.

Student Work Example project proposal
Student Work Example project proposal

Challenges identified

Volunteers are an essential part of fighting hunger in communities, who serve, pack, and deliver millions of meals every single month for people struggling to feed their families. Without their support, many people might not have access to healthy and nutritious meals, which is a basic need for humans.

Without the help of volunteers who serve food, many food-insecure families may not receive their food on time. This may result in short-term effects of blood sugar imbalances that can cause headaches, fatigue, and mood swings.

Without timely access to nutritional food, people may go through stress, tiredness, anxiety, depression. and a lower capacity to work, which all have negative effects on mental health.

The United States has wealth and resources to produce enough food to feed the whole country. However, hunger remains an issue due to the lack of adequate food distribution and volunteers to help.
If people do not have access to enough food resources, it may lead to tense social relationships between people who have inadequate food and people with surplus food.

Lack of volunteers for food distribution might perpetuate the prevalence of hunger, which may inhibit productivity, slow economic growth, and place unnecessary burdens on the economic well-being.
Research shows that lack of food volunteers may lead to food insecurity among people who have limited food resources. This may lead to an increased level of crime out of necessity and eventual incarceration.

Chronic hunger can prevent students from making the most of their education because of its negative behavioral effects. Hunger can have physical and psychological effects on young people that make learning substantially difficult.

Underlying problem

Due to the ongoing Covid pandemic and the many regulations instituted by federal, state, and local governments, many establishments such as hospitals, food pantries, senior centers do not have an adequate number of volunteers to serve food. How might I, Project VFS, serve food through volunteer services so that eligible families can have access to food in the neighboring towns of Canton in 2021 and beyond?

Solution ideas

Keeping my Underlying Problem in mind, I generated solution ideas to serve food to the people and help them make sustainable food choices on a small budget.

Project VFS will volunteer to serve food in the Newton-Wellesley Hospital. This will enable the patients, staff, and visitors to access food daily.

Project VFS will create a mobile application that will allow users to specify the ingredients they have and their dietary needs and receive food recipes based on their preferences.

Project VFS will volunteer at the town food pantry and provide food delivery to the people in need so that everyone can have access to food irrespective of their socioeconomic status.

Project VFS will conduct food drives at the town high school and library to collect food and provide it to food-insecure individuals.

Project VFS will volunteer at the town senior center and serve meals to senior citizens so that they can have access to food in a community setting.

Project VFS will raise funds by applying for grants and deliver hot food and healthy snack packs to food-insecure families.

Project VFS will create a resource guide about food stamps in Massachusetts, prepare a master list of food pantries/banks throughout the state and publicize this information to food-insecure families.

On Global Youth Service Day, Project VFS will recruit 50 youth volunteers and create food packs to distribute to food-insecure families and inspire more volunteers to help our community.

Determination of action plan

Criteria Considered
Contrary to Global Issues program’s step 4 and 5, where criteria are generated and ranked to find only one best solution, project VFS generated criteria to determine a broad range of practical solutions and prioritize them.

Since the pandemic has increased the number of patients in hospitals, which activities will be the most effective in serving food through volunteer services?

Since the lack of enough volunteers have forced many organizations to reduce their services, which solution will best help the eligible families in having access to food?

Since new rules and regulations have caused most food services to use new technologies, which solution will provide the best technology to receive food recipes with ingredients that people have?

Since there are not enough funds to publicize the need for volunteers for food services, which initiative will best help to raise funds so that more volunteers can be recruited?

Since there is not enough food being donated due to the pandemic, which solution will bring more donated food to the volunteer organizations so that everyone can have access to food?

Criteria evaluation

Student Work Example project proposal

Action plan

Project VFS experienced firsthand some of the debilitating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, when it found that the Canton Senior Center had limited its dinner celebrations, Canton Food Pantry had reduced its work hours, and Newton-Wellesley Hospital had advertised a request for volunteers in the food services department. As the prevalence of this topic is very relevant to our current day situation and addresses the needs of the food-insecure families of our communities, the project planned and proposed timeline which will provide immediate relief for volunteering activities and provide more volunteering services to serve food-insecure families. 

Proposed Timeline 

September 2021-November 2021: Determine project, perform background research, and complete Future Problem Solving six-step process. Make inquiries to various food volunteer organizations to request them for volunteering opportunities. Find from each organization the prerequisites for serving as a volunteer including vaccinations. Fulfill all the volunteer requirements and get required uniforms and badges. Meet with school administrators and other community leaders to garner their support.

December 2021 – January 2022: Start volunteering at Newton-Wellesley hospital cafeteria to help patients, staff and visitors. Submit request to volunteer at Canton Food Pantry and Canton Senior Center. Apply for Sodexo Youth Grants. Get permission to organize food drives. Meet the Canton High School Principal, CHS Community Service Coordinator and other administrators and explain the project initiatives. Create a mobile application that provides nutritional meals based on user preferences. Add a donation feature to provide an easier way to donate canned food and money for hot meals.

February – March 2022: Continue to work at Newton-Wellesley hospital cafeteria. Start volunteering at Canton Food Pantry and Canton Senior Center. Create awareness pamphlets about the volunteer for food delivery initiatives. Plan Global Youth Service Day initiatives by recruiting up to 50 volunteers to deliver hot food from April 29 – May 1, 2022. Contact organizations like Newton-Wellesley Hospital that can donate food and connect them with organizations such as Father Bill’s & MainSpring in Quincy that can accept food. Organize food drives to collect non-perishable and nutritious food items that are desirable and low in quantity at the Canton Food Pantry.

April – June 2022: Use Sodexo grant to buy the required supplies. Start working with the HESSCO Canton Senior Center location to pack lunches for the seniors in Canton. Present the project to the Canton School Committee, Canton Selectmen, State Senator, and Representative. Create a public service announcement and documentary about the need for volunteers for food delivery and present it at various venues. Organize youth volunteers, teachers, and administrators and celebrate Global Youth Service Day by providing food to various recipient organizations.

References

  1. https://www.volunteeringaustralia.org/resources/definition-of-volunteering/#/
  2. https://leverageedu.com/blog/what-is-volunteerism-and-why-is-it-important/
  3. https://nonprofitssource.com/online-giving-statistics/volunteering-statistics/ 
  4. https://www.gov.scot/publications/scottish-third-sector-perspectives-volunteering-during-covid-19-survey-report/pages/8/ 
  5. https://solutions.volunteermatch.org/hubfs/Ebooks/The%20Impact%20of%20COVID-19%20on%20Volunteering%20-%20A%20Two%20Month%20Comparison.pdf
  6. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/03/16/food-banks-are-seeing-volunteers-disappear-food-supply-evaporate-coronavirus-fears-mount/ 
  7. https://www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org/docs/default-source/covid-19/covid-19-impact-report.pdf?sfvrsn=52b6b53b_6 
  8. https://www.nwh.org/careers/volunteer-opportunities
  9. https://calhospital.org/relaunching-your-volunteer-program-during-covid-19/
  10. https://www.feedingamerica.org/hunger-blog/why-volunteer-at-a-food-bank 

Report

Relevance to the action plan

Project VFS implemented the action plan through the solution ideas over the course of the project prioritizing them in accordance with the selection criteria. In my town, an estimated 9% of the households often run out of food and are supported by either private volunteer donations or the Canton Food Pantry.

Due to the ongoing Covid pandemic and the many regulations instituted by federal, state, and local governments, Project VFS had to request more permissions than usual to implement the action plan. For example, before the pandemic, volunteering at Newton-Wellesley Hospital (NWH) only needed Tuberculosis (TB) negative test. However, during the pandemic, NWH needed proof of COVID-19 vaccinations and the booster before they even offered volunteer opportunities. Volunteers must also self-screen for symptoms every day before volunteering and report their findings before starting their volunteer work. In addition, volunteers in food services must wash their hands more frequently and wear masks continuously. These regulations were applicable at the Canton Food Pantry and the Canton Senior Center as well.

These stringent requirements have dissuaded many volunteers from serving in the food services. This has led to cancellation of many regular services or reduction of service hours at food distribution venues when compared to pre-pandemic times. However, the need for food services is even more necessary and urgent now during the pandemic in my town of Canton and surrounding towns. 

Project VFS created an ambitious action plan taking all these unique conditions into consideration. This included allocating sufficient time to meet with various administrators, requesting permissions, and fulfilling all voluntary requirements.

Initially, Project VFS met and discussed plans with many community leaders, including the Canton High School Principal Mr. Sperling, CHS Community Service Coordinator Mr. Amico, Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Canton Senior Center, and the Canton Food Pantry. They provided their full support and encouraged me to continue my project by providing necessary permissions, which gave me assurance that my action plan was feasible.

Project VFS Timeline

September – November 2021

Chose volunteering for food services as the most beneficial project during the pandemic period and named it as “Project VFS: Volunteering in Food Services”.

Perform background research and complete Future Problem Solving six-step process.

Design project logo, pamphlets, and brochures.

Meet with school administrators and other community leaders to garner their support to garner their support.

Make inquiries to various food volunteer organizations to request them for volunteering.

December 2021 – January 2022

Start volunteering at Newton Wellesley hospital food.

Submit request to volunteer at Canton Food Pantry and Canton Senior Center.

Apply for Sodexo Youth Grants. 

Get permission to organize food drives.

Create a mobile application that provides recipes for nutritional meals based on user preferences.

Add a donation feature to donate canned food and money for hot meals.

February – March 2022

Continue to work at Newton Wellesley hospital cafeteria. 

Start volunteering at Canton Food Pantry and Canton Senior Center. 

Create awareness pamphlets about the volunteer for food delivery initiatives. 

Plan Global Youth Service Day initiatives to deliver hot food from April 29 – May 1, 2022. 

Contact organizations which can deliver and accept food.

Organize food drives to collect non-perishable and nutritious food.

April – June 2022

Use Sodexo grant to buy the required supplies. 

Start working with the HESSCO Canton Senior Center location to pack lunches for the seniors in Canton. 

Present the project to the Canton School Committee, Canton Selectmen, State Senator, and Representative. 

Create a public service announcement and documentary about the need for volunteers for food delivery and present it at various venues. 

Organize youth volunteers, teachers, and administrators and celebrate Global Youth Service Day by providing food to various recipient organizations.

Actions and Outcomes to Date

As soon as I started my project, I received overwhelming support from the administrators, as they became convinced of the magnitude of the underlying problem and the urgent need to solve it. Initially, I started to volunteer and serve food at one location: Newton-Wellesley Hospital Food Services. However, after fulfilling all the regulations and receiving all required immunizations and vaccinations, I started to work with other organizations after receiving enthusiastic support from the Newton-Wellesley Hospital. 

September – November 2021: 

Brainstormed various project ideas and chose volunteering for food services as the most beneficial project during the pandemic period and named it as “Project VFS: Volunteering in Food Services”.

Perform background research and identified the area of concern.

Used Future Problem Solving six-step process and determined the challenges, identified an underlying problem, developed solutions, generated criteria, evaluated the solutions, and formulated a plan of action.

Designed project logo, pamphlets, and brochures.

Meet with school administrators and other community leaders to garner their support.

Made inquiries to various food volunteer organizations such as Newton-Wellesley hospital, Canton Food Pantry, Canton Senior Center, and others to find out the requirements from each of them before volunteering for them.

Applied to volunteer at the Newton-Wellesley Hospital and received a call for an interview, where I was given a set of requirements and vaccinations that must be completed before starting the volunteering.

After completing all the requirements and providing documentation about Flu and COVID-19 vaccinations, I received permission to volunteer at the Newton-Wellesley Hospital Food Services.

In response to my request to volunteer, Canton Food Pantry replied to me saying that they are not accepting volunteers now and asked me to check back after a month due to healthcare restrictions.

In response to my request to volunteer, Canton Senior Center responded that they have canceled all dining in and parties where food is served until the new year, due to new state and local regulations.

December 2021 – January 2022:

I started to work at the Newton-Wellesley Hospital Food Services working for 2 hours each week.

In response to my request to volunteer, Canton Food Pantry after checking all my vaccinations accepted my request and allowed me to volunteer.

I applied for a Sodexo youth grant which provides grants for best ideas from young people to perform youth-led service projects that engage young people in the fight against hunger in their communities.

I requested permission from school authorities to conduct a food drive to assist Canton Food Pantry.

I created a mobile application called “Healthy Eats” that can provide customized nutritious meals based on user preferences such as the ingredients they have, duration of preparation in minutes, diet restrictions such as Vegan, Pescetarian, and others.  

I added a donation feature to the mobile application allowing users to donate canned food and money for hot meals to the deserving people.

February – March 2022:

I was selected to receive the 2022 Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation Youth Grant in the amount of $500.

After meeting with CHS Principal Mr. Sperling and CHS Outreach Coordinator Mr. Amico, we prepared a plan on how to use the grant and planned an event during the Global Youth Service Day to deliver hot food from April 29 – May 1, 2022.

Created a final project proposal and submitted the agreement and memorandum of understanding (MOU) to Youth Service America which administers Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation Youth Grant.

I volunteered at the Canton Food Pantry during the February vacation week.

I continued to volunteer at the Newton-Wellesley Hospital Food Services working for 2 hours each week.

In response to my request to volunteer, Canton Senior Center mentioned that they would be hosting a lunch at the Canton Senior Center for the first time in more than two years on St. Patrick’s Day on 17th March 2022 and suggested that I could volunteer in serving food.

I planned to organize a food drive to collect non-perishable and nutritious food at collection centers in Canton High School and the Canton Public Library and donate them to the Canton Food Pantry.

April – June 2022:

I plan to create brochures about food conservation methods and to raise community awareness on how to make nutritious food with fewer ingredients.

I plan to start working with the HESSCO Canton Senior Center location to pack lunches for the seniors in Canton.

I plan to present the project to the Canton School Committee, Canton Selectmen, State Senator, and Representative. 

I plan to create a public service announcement and a documentary about the need for volunteers for food delivery and present it at various venues. 

I plan to organize youth volunteers, teachers, and administrators and celebrate Global Youth Service Day by providing food to various recipient organizations.

I plan to spread information about my project on Canton Community Television.

I also plan to discuss my project on 91.7 FM live radio show and answer questions from the audience.

Organization

Since I am working on an individual project, I independently handled most of the activities. To organize all the activities efficiently, I created a Gantt chart (which is commonly used in project management) to show activities, tasks and events displayed against time. As each activity is completed, I marked them complete so that I can focus on pending tasks.

I maintained all my appointments with administrators and other community leaders in Google Calendar and color coded them based on the type of appointment. I also filed all my correspondence with stakeholders in different folders for ease of access.

I created a detailed budget and created cost estimates for the resources that are needed. I also maintained a detailed expense list which included the quantity of each item, unit cost of each item, and the total cost of that item.

I maintained a separate folder for each organization and stored all the paperwork including permissions, immunizations required and rules and regulations that need to be followed corresponding to the organization. I also maintained detailed information of all the hours spent volunteering at each organization.

I created the brochures and pamphlets myself. However, I received help from others when taking pictures to document my activities. 

For my mobile application, I created detailed flowcharts to describe the application process flow and navigation. I also created sample screens designs and refined them based on the suggestions I received to improve the user experience.

I also discussed my ideas, challenges, future plans, obstacles, and improvements with the community leaders and took their suggestions while refining my ideas. Text and email were valuable ways we used for communication when in-person meetings were not feasible. My project thrived because of these strong organization techniques.

Resources identification and utilization

Throughout my project execution, I had utilized a large range of resources and contacts in order to reach out to my community. I would like to thank everyone who generously donated funds and students and adults who participated in all my community activities. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the following people and many more that helped me:

Community impact

During my project, I was able to effectively dedicate a lot of hours to volunteering activities in food service departments in various organizations. 

I was able to serve food at the Newton-Wellesley Hospital, which allowed the hospital to serve breakfast and lunch during the weekend hours as they could add more volunteering staff to serve food. During that time, I made friends with many of the hospital staff and a few of the patients, which helped me to understand the impacts of Covid on food services which were curtailed to a large extent due to the lack of volunteers. 

In addition to their normal working hours, I helped the Canton Food Pantry in opening for extended hours during the February vacation break. This helped the eligible Canton citizens, who have been affected by economic problems, to receive free food on a few extra days. I assisted the Pantry in stocking food supplies and delivering them to the eligible citizens. I am also planning to conduct donation drives to collect food supplies which are in high demand in the Canton Food Pantry.

I have made several attempts to serve at the Canton Senior Center and communicated with the Senior Center Administrators several times. However, due to the ongoing regulations, they had to cancel all dining and lunch sessions at the Canton Senior Center. The latest event that was planned was a luncheon on St. Patrick’s Day where I was supposed to serve lunch. However, due to the continuing COVID-19 regulations, the luncheon was replaced by a “grab and go” lunch. I was told that from April, regulations will be reduced, and Canton Senior Center will revert to serving lunches and dinners onsite.

I was able to sign up several volunteers with the help of CHS outreach coordinator for Global Youth Service Day to serve hot food to the eligible citizens and bought packing supplies using the Sodexo grant.

I am also planning to collect food items to help meet the demands at Canton Food Pantry so that all the eligible citizens can receive the required food items.

I plan to present my work to the School Committee, Board of Selectmen, MA State Representative and Senator. I also plan to spread information about my project on live TV (CCTV) and on 91.7 FM live radio show and discuss its impact on the community.

Community involvement

During my project many community leaders helped me to achieve my goals, commended my work and promised support for my future activities. Some of the reactions to my project include:

Student Work example community project involvement table

Effectiveness of action plan

I believe that I made, and will continue to make, a successful impact in my community in volunteering for food services across various organizations. Receiving the Sodexo grant helped me get visibility for my project and provided funding for my publicity activities such as brochures, pamphlets and posters. My discussions with the community leaders such as the coordinators at the Newton-Wellesley Hospital and the Canton Food Pantry helped me to understand the impact of Covid pandemic on Food Services and helped me to create an action plan which will effectively address my underlying problem. My discussion with my school principal and community outreach coordinator helped me refine my action plan. 

Many of the organizations I volunteered with found my mobile application useful and said that they will ask their patrons to try the application.

Numerous community leaders such as the director of Council on Aging and Outreach worker of the Canton Senior Center offered words of support and expressed appreciation for my work. Other students at my school reached out to me to learn more about my volunteering activities and signed up as volunteers to help me in organizing food service activities during the Global Youth Service Day. 

In terms of solving my underlying problem, I have successfully volunteered in food services across multiple organizations so that eligible people can have access to food in my town and the neighboring towns. By looking at the feedback I received from various administrators and coordinators, I am proud to say that I have taken steps to successfully address my area of concern.

Adaptation of plan

During my project, I have to modify timelines for my various initiatives because of the delay in receiving approvals and also because of the evolving rules and regulations. Initially, I planned on starting to volunteer at the Newton-Wellesley Hospital by the start of December. However, this initiative has been delayed by more than four weeks because there are lengthy timelines for the approval of required vaccinations and necessary paperwork. However, because of this delay, I was able to apply and receive Sodexo Youth Grant which allowed me to plan more activities to solve my underlying problem.

Similarly, my starting date at the Canton Food Pantry also was postponed twice because of new local regulations due to the Covid pandemic. This delay helped me to develop my mobile application which also allowed me to effectively solve my underlying problem.

Sustainability of project impact

Impressed with my Global Youth Service Day initiatives, my school administrators mentioned that they would continue to offer hot food donations on Global Youth Service Day in the future. They also mentioned that they will continue to organize food drives to assist the Canton Food Pantry in receiving the needed food materials so that eligible citizens in the community can receive food.

Many of my friends, coordinators and acquaintances through this project told me that they will continue to use my mobile application to receive new recipes based on their preferences.

My school community outreach coordinator appreciated my initiative in working with Newton-Wellesley Hospital in their food services department and mentioned to me that he will popularize this with the student community so that more students can serve as volunteers at the hospital in their food service department.

Reflection/assessment

At the beginning of the project, many administrators, coordinators and even my parents were skeptical about my initiative of volunteering in the food services due to the stringent restrictions during the Covid pandemic. However, as I created a workable action plan and persistently worked methodologically to execute it, many became appreciative about the positive impact my activities had on the community.

Initially, I had difficulty in securing permissions for various activities and completing the paperwork needed. However, with the help of my school administrators, I was able to successfully complete many of the requirements. I also faced the difficulty of obtaining permissions and waivers to take pictures during my activities. However, as the coordinators realized the benefits of my events, they quickly provided their permission.

Many coordinators and school administrators were not confident that a high school student could effectively tackle a problem with such great magnitude. However, my passion allowed me to navigate through all the difficulties and provide food services for all the eligible people. By looking at the results of my activities and hearing the feedback from many people, I am proud to say that I have taken steps to successfully solve my underlying problem by serving food through volunteer services so that eligible families can have access to food in my hometown and the neighboring towns. Some of the comments I heard from coordinators and visitors were, “I am glad that we can offer extra hours to our visitors”, “Happy to deliver more food to the people in need”, and “With your mobile application, I was able to cook and enjoy a new recipe with leftover ingredients I had”.

Evaluation highlights

Here are highlights from the evaluation team about the project:

Overall

  • Your supporting materials did a great job expanding on your written report and filling in the gaps of your project. It is clear to see why you got involved in this area of concern.
  • Your leadership is impressive. You’ll have an easy time motivating others to get involved in your efforts.
  • Continue to utilize the Future Problem Solving process, as you’ve already done, and you’ll go far!
  • I love the fact that you are volunteering. It really does make a difference.

Portfolio

  • Your portfolio was very organized and included some great data to support your efforts. It effectively conveyed the steps you took to complete your project and showcased the involvement from your community.

Promotional Video

  • Nice video! Your video provided support for some of the actions outlined in your written reports. In the future, think of the video as a recruitment tool. In what way can you present your project so it encourages people to get involved and support your efforts? Use it as a tool to share your passion with them!

Display

  • N/A

Interview

  • Your interview was very sincere and honest. It is clear that you recognize the importance of what you’re doing and the impact it has on your community. I loved seeing your app and hearing your plans to improve and progress. Congrats on your $500 grant!

Report

  • Great work. I would like to see a little more detail in your reflections.
  • Your action plan is very thorough and relevant to your UP. Your report paints a clear picture of your efforts. You made connections with many key stakeholders. This buy-in from your community is very important and will contribute greatly to your success.
  • You discussed some adjustments you had to make along the way. Don’t be afraid to share the adversity in an honest reflection. The buy-in from your community shows signs of sustainability.

Proposal

  • You have a great understanding of the situation! Good use of research to describe the situation.
  • You have done a good job considering the area of concern from a variety of viewpoints. Very thorough!
  • Very well written underlying problem. You’ve narrowed down your area of concern to a manageable scale.
  • Good insight regarding solutions. Be careful that your solution ideas address the purpose of your underlying problem.
  • I really like your Criteria Evaluation. Good use of the grid to determine which solutions were most appropriate. Be sure to provide a brief explanation as to why your solutions scored the way they did.
  • Nice proposed timeline! Your plan is well developed. Try to provide some additional detail about your timeline and your specific timeframes for accomplishing parts of your project.
  • You effectively communicate your ideas and have shown a lot of initiative.

Disclaimer: Student work and evaluator comments may have been adjusted by Future Problem Solving for privacy and clarity.

Attachment – Proposal

Attachment – Report

Attachment – Portfolio+

Article Attachments

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April Michele

April Michele Bio

Executive Director

A seasoned educator, April Michele has served as the Executive Director since 2018 and been with Future Problem Solving more than a decade. Her background in advanced curriculum strategies and highly engaging learning techniques translates well in the development of materials, publications, training, and marketing for the organization and its global network. April’s expertise includes pedagogy and strategies for critical and creative thinking and providing quality educational services for students and adults worldwide.

Prior to joining Future Problem Solving, April taught elementary and middle grades, spending most of her classroom career in Gifted Education. She earned the National Board Certification (NBPTS) as a Middle Childhood/Generalist and later served as a National Board Assessor for the certification of others. She was trained and applied the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (MYP) in Humanities, which helped widen the educational scope and boundaries beyond the U.S. In addition, April facilitated the Theory and Development of Creativity course for state level certification of teachers. She has also collaborated on a variety of special projects through the Department of Education.

A graduate of the University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s in Elementary Education and the University of South Florida with a master’s in Gifted Education, April’s passion is providing a challenging curriculum for 21st century students so they are equipped with the problem solving and ethical leadership skills they need to thrive in the future. As a board member in her local Rotary Club, she facilitates problem solving in leadership at the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA). She is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute and earned her certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Edyth Bush Institute at Rollins College.