Somerville Resources Methodology Post

Team: Tuyen Bui, Hayley Song, Deborah Chen

The goal of our project was to raise awareness of food insecurity in Somerville and highlight ways in which people can help. To this end, we created an interactive video that we hope can be shared and inspire people to volunteer at the organizations we featured, or ones that have similar goals. Our end project has a focus on qualitative data that we collected ourselves, but the story we wanted to tell was motivated by the data.

The first step in our project was to follow-up with Lisa from the Somerville Health Alliance and take a deeper dive into the survey and dataset she brought up in class. The survey asks youth in Somerville about their level of food insecurity, where they get food, and what would help them better access the food they want or need. We also looked at the Rapid Assessment Response and Evaluation of Food Insecurity in Somerville of 2012.

To make sense with this data, we used Excel, Tableau and Google Sheets to make quick visualizations, slicing the answers to various questions by different demographics to see if there were any interesting trends there. By far, the biggest differences were in the responses from food secure and food insecure youth. Using Media Meter’s word counting tool, we analyzed the frequencies of words for questions such as  “What foods would you eat more often if you could?” or “If there weren’t enough food to eat at home, what would you do?” This told us there was a gap of understanding between the food secure and insecure.

Here’s the data we worked off: link.

We next met with Lisa and her team at the Somerville Homeless Coalition and talked about our impressions of the data and possible stories. Here, our conversation turned to resources that help address food insecurity. We learned there were many organizations including food pantries, mobile farmers markets, and community meals that were available as resources of the lower-income food insecure population, but many people were either unaware of them, or knew about them but did not go there. For example, 36% of the food insecure youth survey were not aware of food pantries, and 28% were aware, but did not go there. At the same time, many people expressed the desire to help, but did not necessarily know where to go.

In the end, we decided to focus on the raising awareness of food insecurity and Somerville and highlighting ways people can get involved. We believed we could make a bigger impact this way, and one of the organizations we spoke to underscored the need for more volunteers. By making a video, we hoped that visually seeing these resources would inspire people to go there. We chose to use Popcorn Maker, an open source video editor, to allow us to embed pop-ups and links in our video. Our call to action is to learn more about the organizations and ideally volunteer.

We documented our experience and volunteered when possible. We interviewed volunteers at the Backpack program in Somerville who gather every Friday morning to prepare meals. That Friday, there were 6 volunteers and dedicated an hour and a half of their morning to pack the meals at Connexion Church in East Somerville and deliver to the 3 schools around who ordered 75 meals in total. We took video and asked them questions about their experience. We also visited the Somerville Growing Center and talked to youth who were part of an afterschool program.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *