Google’s new search tool to help combat food insecurity in US

(IANS) Google on Tuesday announced a new website designed to be a “one-stop-shop” for people with food insecurity in the US.

The “Find Food Support” site includes a food locator tool powered by Google Maps which people can use to search for their nearest food bank, food pantry or school lunch programme pickup site in their community.

Google is working with non-profit groups like No Kid Hungry and FoodFinder, as well as the US Department of Agriculture, to aggregate 90,000 locations with free food support across all 50 states, with more locations to come, The Verge reported.

The new site is a product of Google’s newly formed Food for Good team, formerly known as Project Delta when it was headquartered at Alphabet’s X moonshot division.

Project Delta’s mission is to “create a smarter food system”, which includes standardising data to improve communication between food distributors to curb food waste.

Food insecurity is defined by the US Department of Agriculture as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life.

The number of people experiencing food insecurity spiked during the Covid-19 pandemic, affecting an estimated 45 million people or 1 in 7 Americans, including 15 million children.

Google said that searches for “food bank near me”, “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)”, “food stamps application”, and “school lunch pick up” reached record highs during 2020.

In addition to the new food location site, Google is publishing five new videos on YouTube aimed at de-stigmatising food insecurity.

The site will also include links to food support hotlines, state-by-state benefit guides and information for specific communities, such as seniors, families and children, and military families.

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