When people are hungry, they may not know where to turn for food – and they may be hesitant to ask for help. At WhyHunger, we want to remove the barriers that keep people from getting the help they need to stay healthy and thrive. We support grassroots groups that are tackling hunger in their communities, such as food banks and meal programs. Google Maps brings our database of 23,000 emergency food providers to our website, so no one has to go hungry.
|Photo by Diane Bondareff for WhyHunger|
Accessing Google Maps through Google for Nonprofits also helps us cover the costs, as more people use the maps to search for food. If we didn’t have access to these programs, it would have taken us much longer to create the map, and we would not be able to quickly connect users to essential resources.
We also rely on the maps ourselves: When people call our Hunger Hotline at 1-800-5HUNGRY, staff can quickly look at the Find Food map and tell callers what’s available locally and how to get there. People are now increasingly going directly to the maps instead of calling us first. Since the updated Find Food Map launched in 2015 an average of 9,000 people search the map per month, compared with 1,000 callers.
The time we save on coding maps and managing data is now spent on coming up with new ways to help hungry people get healthy food and address the root causes of hunger. When our Hunger Hotline service isn’t available, people can text a zip code to the hotline, and receive a text message with names and addresses of the 10 closest food sites. In the future, we hope to develop more ways to use Google Maps and our food program data to tackle hunger, community by community.