Mapping Hunger in D.C.
In 2013, Feeding America identified Washington D.C. as having the nation’s highest rate of food insecurity among children. The Capital Area Food Bank in Lorton, Virginia is trying to change that by using big data to map hunger in order to find, and fill, gaps in their service provision. Applied Predictive Technologies (APT), a predictive analytics software company, helped the food pantry compile data from a variety of sources including the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food desert map, Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap study, and census data, and overlaid this data set with a map of where Capital Area Food Bank and its partners were providing services. The resulting map highlighted unmet hunger needs, such as many suburban areas near D.C.
The hunger “heat map” has helped the food pantry make organizational decisions, such as prioritizing elementary school locations for a new partnership with a local nonprofit and selecting where to locate their first mobile feeding bus. The hunger heat map is a promising model for other municipalities looking to locate shortfalls in their hunger-prevention efforts.
What innovative strategies has your local food bank adopted to increase food access?