The Flavors of the Fifty States
Ever wonder why Rhode Islanders eat bolos?
Flavors of the Fifty States, commonly known as the “Food Truck Project,” is a collaborative, cross-curricular project that incorporates inquiry, experimentation, and project-based learning. In Global Studies, Grade 5 students studied how immigration and environmental accessibility has shaped food culture followed by learning 21st-century marketing guidelines and tactics in the United States.
The class observed how people have the power to change or modify behaviors and practices of those around them through the infusion of culture. The connection between immigration and culture is found throughout the US and the students noticed this especially in food. For example, the bolo is a favorite food in Rhode Island and this can be attritbuted to the Portuguese immigrants who call Little Rhody 'home'.
The students were introduced to the term "melting pot" and the class discussed the controversy surrounding the phrase and what it suggests. The discussion led to a question: How can we showcase the influence immigration has on food? The students could have simply researched the food for each state but Ms. Dunlap looked to curriculum integration with technology and art to make the project more enticing for the students. Thus, the food truck project was born.
Why a food truck?
Food truck popularity is soaring in the United States right now. "The low overhead and creative freedom that this business model provides is increasingly drawing very talented chefs to leave the kitchen and take their culinary shows on the road" according an article featured in Trivago, a travel site. The Washington Post recently covered various chefs and their restaurant on wheels in this latest article <<CLICK HERE>> . And who knew that there is a National Food Truck Day, celebrated on June 29! From supporting small business to trying new foods, there are a plethora of reasons to try out this culinary experience and it clear that popularity of these roving restaurants continues to soar.
It starts with a (business) plan.
The students turned from immigration and were introduced to Fortune 500 companies and the role they play in the U.S market. The mission statements of these companies gave the class insight into what makes a business successful and to kick start their own business plan.
Students were paired up with a classmate and asked to look at one specific state and the following components mentioned above. Once the research was completed, they began working together to create a food truck that would represent the food culture of their state including evidence from history as well as environmental accessibility.
The plans included a business overview, mission statement, marketing data including demographics and a target audience, plus and a promotion including the social media platforms Facebook and Twitter. They were asked to create a company name, brand, and menu options. Each food truck had a theme for their state and with that theme came a logo design, food truck/business name, and color selection.
Similar to the television show “Shark Tank,” partners pitched their ideas to a panel who asked questions and challenged them to consider various factors. Following the Shark Tank simulation, the students went back and revised their plans, taking into consideration the feedback that was presented to them.
Once those aspects were confirmed, the students took their project into the next phase in their Technology and Innovation class. Each team designed their "truck" in the maker lab, giving character to their project and having the business become a (semi)reality. Mrs. O’Boyle assisted in creating these 3D models and helped the students with their photoshop skills, designing their logo and the vinyl cutter brought the logos to life on their uniforms.
Time in the clay studio made their food product tangible, with each student creating "food" that was sold in their truck. All of these elements came together for Artsfest and were on display in the Van Bueren Building cafeteria.
Exhibiting the project
We will be hosting a 5th-grade “exhibit” in which parents will have the opportunity to come see the food trucks and hear from the students about their experience in this hands-on, innovative project. We hope that you can join us on May 24, 2018, from 1:00-1:45 pm. At that time, each group will showcase their food truck, marketing plan, and business plan. Additionally, each truck will serve a sample of their food.
In celebration of all of their hard work, a local food truck called Brunch Belly is coming to campus! All middle school students will have the opportunity to experience ordering and eating from the truck. Kerin and Charlie Hamilton, owners of Brunch Belly, are excited to share their journey and commitment to starting a business with the St. Michael’s community.