Google has launched a new website called Find Food Support, which puts important resources on how to locate free and affordable food in the US in one place. Perhaps the most useful feature the website can offer is a new Google Maps tool that can point you to the nearest food bank, food pantry or school lunch program pickup site.
As the tech giant explains, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated hunger for people around the world. According to Feeding America (PDF), 45 million people in the US alone had no reliable access to affordable food last year, including children who lost access to school lunches. That's a 30 percent increase from 2019. The non-profit has a slightly better forecast for 2021, but it still believes 42 million people in the country — 13 million of which are children, and 1 in 5 of which are Black individuals — may experience food insecurity this year.
Google worked with No Kid Hungry, FoodFinder and the US Department of Agriculture to add 90,000 places with free food support across 50 states on Maps. The company said it will add more locations in the future. To use the tool, you only have to go to the website, whether on a PC or on mobile, and type in your location. It will then show you the nearest food banks and pantries with their addresses, phone numbers, and the days and hours they're operational.
Find Food Support also houses YouTube videos showing how food insecurity affects people from all walks of life. The hope is to destigmatize food insecurity, since the stigma associated with getting help prevents people from seeking groups and organizations that can assist them in their time of need. In addition, the website contains links to food support hotlines, benefit guides per state and information for specific demographics and communities, such as seniors, families and children and military families. And in case you don't need food aid and want to help out, you can also find information on how you can donate food, time or money on the website.