Got Food?

Food Resource Locator App for the Food-Insecure

Photo of Phillip Mathew

Written by

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

Download (iPhone): https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/got-food/id1039258641?mt=8 Download (Android): https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.us.gotfood&hl=en_GB Website: http://gotfood.us/

Date Started

June/15/2015

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Scaling (expanding impact to many new places or in many new ways)

1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."

My brother and I grew up in an affluent neighborhood outside of Chicago. In our minds, hunger was a problem that affected poor people in the inner city. We were surprised to learn that 1 in 7 Americans, including some of our neighbors, faced food insecurity. While working at our community food pantry, we met clients who reported difficulty finding our location. Others showed up on the wrong day or lacking the necessary documentation. We thought that if a phone application could help people find the lowest gas prices and nearest Starbucks, we could create an app that helped hungry people find food. That idea launched Got Food?

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Food insecurity affects 41 million Americans, approximately 1 in 7 people. Many of our neighbors do not know where their next meal will come from. While there are efforts to provide relief through food pantries and soup kitchens, the food insecure population and the people who care for them do not reliably know how to access these resources. By creating a centralized database and location-based service, we help hungry people find food.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Got Food? is a free phone app that helps the user find nearby food pantries, soup kitchens, and summer feeding sites. Currently, our database of food resources includes 2800 agencies in 17 states. To date, our app has been downloaded by over 2000 Apple and Android users whom we know also include doctors, social workers, and first responders. We started our database through an initial partnership with the Greater Chicago Food Depository, our local food bank. As interest and usage grew, we reached out to Feeding America and through our collaboration, we now partner with 18 food banks across the country that regularly supply information to update our database. In addition, we encourage users and food providers to input their data directly through our website. Our goal is to cover every corner of America. Recently, we initiated a new function that allows people to access assistance in applying for SNAP benefits through the Got Food? app. We regularly solicit feedback from all users to ensure the accuracy of our information.

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

When the user opens Got Food?, he either enters a zip code or asks the app to pinpoint his location. Then, he selects to view just food pantries, just soup kitchens, just summer feeding sites, or all together. Once he chooses the most convenient food pantry, soup kitchen, or summer feeding site to visit, he is provided with location-specific information such as the address, phone number, and hours. In addition, the user is alerted to any special requirements for participation unique to a feeding site. To get a better sense of the app and how it works, I encourage you to download “Got Food?” on the Apple Store or Google Play Store. When a food provider joins our database, it commits to regularly providing accurate information regarding its site. In return, the provider's ability to serve its target population is broadened and simplified.

5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

While regional databases may exist, they are often difficult to navigate and not readily accessible. To our knowledge, Got Food? is the only smartphone application for the purpose of finding food resources. Our ease of use allows it to be utilized by clients and food providers alike. We also provide unique features including location-based services and specific instructions. This helps increase access. Additionally, we are trying to centralize public and private resources for the food insecure population.

6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

We've received feedback that Got Food? is incredibly user-friendly and recently heard that one of our neighbors use it regularly to find food. It has been incorporated into the food insecurity screening performed in the Cook County Health & Hospitals System's clinics. The American Academy of Pediatrics endorsed our app to its Illinois members. Other organizations have begun to reach out to us seeking permission to promote our app and develop additional partnerships. We truly feel that our app has the capability of broadening the reach of the many entities fighting hunger. As mentioned earlier, Got Food? touches the lives of thousands of Americans and the people who care for them.

7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

While we have penetrated some regions of the US very well, the hungriest states are yet to join our network. Our previous outreach campaigns were done through email and paper mailings. We need to repeat our outreach attempts periodically to reach all 50 states. We have been asked by Hunger Free America (New York) to develop crowdsourcing capability. Additionally, we would like to have Got Food? preloaded on all government-issued cellphones. Finally, we dream of developing a mechanism to allow people to donate money to needy individuals to be strictly used for food.

8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?

Today we have more ideas than money. As our goals become more sophisticated, our own programming skills must develop. Financial support would provide us with additional training as well as supplement our skill set with programming consultants to implement our more complicated features. Our planned outreach will also require some funding. We believe that having the support of T-Mobile and Ashoka will provide a platform for us as we try to form relationships with government entities.

9. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Family support

10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.

We recognize that there are others that work on issues related to food insecurity such as homelessness. We would welcome providing our resource along with other resources targeting related socioeconomic problems as a package to needy individuals. We have been very receptive to ideas offered by others working on food insecurity as described above and we would continue to welcome new ideas.

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media
  • Recommended by others
  • Word of mouth

Evaluation results

6 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 16.7%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 66.7%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 16.7%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. - 0%

2. Changemaker Quality

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 33.3%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 33.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 16.7%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 16.7%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

3. Creativity

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 33.3%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 50%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 16.7%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

4. Commitment

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 100%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 100%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 50%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 50%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Connection

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 50%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 0%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 50%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%

20 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Spam
Photo of Ariyan Miller
Team

Hey There Fellow Changemaker,

Congrats on moving to the next phase. I wishing you the best of luck ! & I am sending love and light to all the positive things that you do.

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Photo of Phillip Mathew
Team

Thanks so much, Ariyan. I wish you the best of luck as well.

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Photo of Hannah and Zoha
Team

Hi Phillip, Zoha and I are the co-founders of HER (Her Education is Her Right), and NGO that supports and builds libraries for underfunded girls schools in developing countries. While we are not working in the same space we were very impressed with your idea and your app. We are both involved in various food distribution service initiatives in Washington D.C. and are curious if your app is being used here. We can see how it would be a great resource to so many. Three cheers and good luck!

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Photo of Phillip Mathew
Team

Hi Hannah and Zoha, I think what you guys are doing is amazing and I wish you all the best. Got Food? isn't in Washington D.C. currently, but we hope to help serve the people in your area in the near future. We appreciate you guys using Got Food? and would appreciate if you would pass it on to your local food pantry or regional food bank. We would be happy to incorporate your pantry's information into Got Food?. Please reach out at any time to gotfoodoutreach@gmail.com to get your pantry into our app or if you have any questions. Thanks so much and good luck on your projects!

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Photo of Kiran Sridhar
Team

Phillip, it's great to see you addressing this issue. From my work with Waste No Food, I have found that so many people living in poverty do not know about all of the social services that are at their disposal. The same is true of volunteers who want to make an impact. Your tool will be vital for those in need to create a roadmap to better their lives and it could mean that volunteers will leverage their skills to aid high-impact organizations. I'm curious about how you will better track metrics from your site to understand the extent of your impact; perhaps you could collect survey data from your users.

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Photo of Phillip Mathew
Team

Thanks, Kiran! That is exactly why we created Got Food?. Currently, we are able to see the number of people using our app and their locations around the country. But we may look to collect survey data in order to know the specific situations of each of our users.

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Photo of Omar Varela
Team

This sounds like an amazing resource for so many people. I hope that you continue to expand the network that you have already created. I hope that you continue to look for other possible collaborators that are involved in the Changemakers Challenge or elsewhere.

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Photo of Phillip Mathew
Team

Thanks so much, Omar. We hope to expand Got Food? greatly and believe that the Changemakers Challenge and partnerships with the collaborators in it are a great way to achieve this.

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Photo of Semran Thamer
Team

Hello Got Food? Team!
At Socio Connect We're working on a similar vision of simplifying access to basic resource needs. We love your approach to addressing food insecurity and would love to get a conversation going about your work and how we could potentially learn from each others' efforts. Feel free to shoot us an email with your contact info or provide it here.

Best,
The SC Team
contact@socioconnect.org

Spam
Photo of Phillip Mathew
Team

Thanks so much! We would love to talk to you guys more about Got Food?.
Please contact us at gotfoodoutreach@gmail.com

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Photo of Riley Jones
Team

Let's talk more about this! Great work.

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Photo of Phillip Mathew
Team

Thank you! I would love to talk more with you about Got Food? whenever you're available

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Photo of SOMI
Team

Totally proud of you James and Phillip! Wishing you well in this new engagement!

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Photo of Phillip Mathew
Team

Thank you so much!

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Photo of Vivian Tran
Team

This idea is honestly so amazing in making it a lot easier for the impoverished to access major necessities such as food and water. Not only that, but I also appreciate how your app's interface is very simple and easy-to-use. I feel that your idea as well as mine ( Cupboards for Change! - Free Street Pantries for Those in Need ) could be incorporated together and would make an even better end result as those in need could use your app to locate these cupboards stocked with free everyday necessities! It would be great to work together someday!

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Photo of Phillip Mathew
Team

This is a great idea! Are your cupboards currently active?

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Photo of Natalie Laky
Team

This is amazing! I'm aware of the difficulties that come with living in a "food desert" and I'm so glad Got Food? is making moves to help people feed their families. This is such a unique idea; I wish you luck!

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Photo of Phillip Mathew
Team

Thanks so much! That’s exactly how we are hoping to help.

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Photo of Adam Nicholson
Team

Great idea guys. I love the initiative you are taking, seeing an issue in your local community and jumping on it. How are you guys planning on connecting Got Food to government entities?

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Photo of Phillip Mathew
Team

Thanks for the encouragement. We are hoping to get Got Food? preloaded on government-issued phones. We already offer assistance for SNAP Applications to our users.