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How Technology Innovations Are Helping To Fight Hunger

How Technology Innovations Are Helping To Fight Hunger

What digital innovations and new technologies are being used to address hunger in America? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Jack Griffin, Founder/CEO at FoodFinder, on Quora:

Wouldn’t it be nice if the latest and greatest technologies being developed had more to do with helping the poor and feeding the hungry rather than corporate NFTs or plots of land in the metaverse? Well in that case, there might actually be something here that’s harder and harder to come by these days: reason for optimism!

Each and every day, new innovation is taking place in the nonprofit sector and being done on the part of social enterprises who know that we can meaningfully improve millions of people’s lives with technology built for good. This is especially true in the fight against hunger, a movement that has undergone (and overcame) its fair share of massive challenges since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Here are just a handful of the newest and most impactful technologies being developed as we speak to feed our neighbors in need:

  1. Helping Fight Food Waste: MEANS Database and MealConnect. As two of the farthest reaching and most widely available food rescue apps developed in the last decade, both MEANS Database and Feeding America’s MealConnect tool are salvaging millions of pounds of food that would otherwise get thrown out. It’s worth remembering how the United States actually produces more than enough food to feed everyone in the country and then some. However, research from top universities, nonprofits, and industry leaders shows that approximately one-third of all food grown in the U.S. goes to waste. When we still have more than 40 million Americans who are food insecure, food rescue solutions like MEANS and MealConnect connect growers & businesses with excess food to the food banks and food pantries who can re-purpose those meals for families in need.
  2. Helping Add Dignity to Food Pantry Lines: OrderAhead. OrderAhead is an extremely recent innovation also born out of the Feeding America network of food banks that asks a very simple question: if people can pick and choose what food items they want from grocery stores online through tools like Instacart, why can’t people do that for food pantries? OrderAhead helps potential food pantry visitors select the groceries and basic necessities that they need most so it’s ready for them as soon as they arrive, saving time and drastically reducing the chance of food going to waste. With the vast majority of even those experiencing hunger in America having access to the internet via a mobile device, this new wave of innovation helps combat the stigma on poverty in America and adds more dignity to a process that resembles regular shopping rather than receiving a handout.
  3. Helping People Find Where to Get Food Aid: FoodFinder. If a hungry family doesn’t know where to get help with free food or that it’s even being offered in the first place, how are they ever supposed to receive it? That’s where FoodFinder comes in as the largest source of information on when, where, and how to get help from more than 45,000 food pantries and free food distribution sites spread throughout all 50 states. Born in 2014 from an idea by a high school student at the time, FoodFinder has been used by nearly 2 million people nationwide.

As someone who’s been working in hunger relief for more than a third of my life now, the creativity and compassion displayed by the teams leading all of the above innovations and countless others fills me with hope. It is undeniable that we are up against some massive difficulties. However, I’m deeply inspired by how young people and longtime fighters alike aren’t anywhere close to giving up, and I hope you feel the same!

This question originally appeared on Quora – the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

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