Hunger used to be a concept that we associated with the developing world. Over the years, the problem of hunger in America has become more prominent as the issue found a voice in mass media communication. If you listen to the radio, or watch television once in a while, you are no stranger to the efforts of organizations like Feeding America and No Kid Hungry. As technology advances and more tools become available, these campaigns find new ways of getting the public involved in ending hunger. Social media, digital and mobile hunger campaigns have been popping up everywhere. Last September we brought you a post on the social media campaign undertaken by Feeding America.
Recently we read an article about six Arizona State University students who found a groundbreaking approach to incorporating technology in solving hunger in their local community. We became instantly intrigued. The students are working to create a food recovery network app called FlashFood, that uses text messages to connect food vendors with those in need. This app is not your ye -old-make-a-donation-by-texting-this-code campaign, they are making things simple and cheap by incorporating the convenience of technology with practices that some food chains already have in place. FlashFood’s model is so innovative that it was a finalist on the software design entry in the U.S Imagine Cup this year, a student technology contest run by Microsoft.
Many food companies already make food donations to local shelters, community centers, churches, and nursing homes at the end of the business day. Others wish they could make that possible but lack the resources to deliver the food, and many local centers do not count with the resources to pick up the food. The app allows a restaurant to say that they have food available to donate on a particular day. A driver or partner who is on call for the evening would be notified of the available food donation, pick it up and deliver to a local church, shelter or school where the food can be put good use. FlashFood works by building the bridge between the food vendors and the local centers where the food can be served to those in need.
Hunger is an American issue as much as is food waste. Every year millions of tons of foods reach US landfills before they reach the table of someone in need. According to a recent report over 40% of the food in the United States is never eaten and ends up in waste. According to Feeding America over 50 million people in the United States still live in food insecure households. We applaud this brave group of students that decided to think outside of monetary donation box as an approach to solve hunger in the United States. We look forward to seeing how this model is received.