Google launched its new Find Food Support website today, which aims to connect people struggling with food insecurity to resources like food banks, school lunch programs, and food pantries. Google said in a blog post that it worked with No Kid Hungry, FoodFinder, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to capture data on food assistance programs around the country.
Google pointed out in its post today that the COVID-19 pandemic made the problems of hunger and food insecurity worse for many Americans. The number of people without access to “a sufficient quantity of affordable food” rose to 45 million in 2020, a nearly 30 percent increase from 2019.
The company also said that over the last year, Google searches for “food bank near me,” “food stamps application,” “school lunch pick up,” and other similar phrases reached “record highs.” And while anyone could type these terms into a search bar on their own, the Find Food Support tool centralizes all this information and can offer more precise results.
The tool includes a Google Map locator with which a user can find their nearest food bank, school lunch program, or other assistance program. There are currently 90,000 locations across all 50 U.S. states included, with more locations on the way. To find a nearby location, users simply type their address into the search bar and pull up relevant results.
In addition to the locator, users can also view SNAP benefits in their area, find support for seniors, see state benefit sites, and access assistance hotlines and text lines, among other things. Those that want to donate food, time, and money can also find relevant information via the tool.
The Find Food Support tool follows other efforts in the food industry to connect food insecure individuals with resources. In April of this year, Instacart expanded its EBT SNAP payment integration to three new grocery retailers (though the SNAP payments can only be used for food, not Instacart’s delivery fees). Also in April, the USDA said it is expanding its P-EBT program to cover kids meals for summer months.