Food insecurity is a major issue in Philadelphia that reaches across many different demographic groups. Current estimates indicate that more than one in five Philadelphians are food insecure. Websites and apps that are currently available to help people find community resources—the most obvious being Google Maps—fail to account for important demographic information. Needy Philadelphians don’t just need the food pantry that is the closest to their homes; the best fit accounts for family size, access to transportation (e.g. ability to afford SEPTA tokens), gender, religion and many other factors. Additionally, many resources require people to bring particular forms of identification, proof of residence, or proof of neediness. People who aren't aware of these requirements could waste time and money getting to a center that ultimately cannot serve them. We aim to address this issue, a filling an “Information Gap,” and create something that will be immediately useable for the community.
We are working on developing an app and website that can help solve this problem. The technology we develop will accomplish this goal in two primary steps. First, it will return a manageable amount of suggested resources. Second, it will provide the user with important information about these resources, such as what to bring, hours of operation, directions, and reviews from other users. We will also form partnerships with community organizations (such as churches and libraries) to ensure that what we develop is accessible to needy Philadelphians.