Part of the Food Policy Snapshot Series
Policy name: Find Food Support
Overview: Google recently launched a new search tool to help Americans find free food support in their communities.
Location: United States
Population: 333 million
Food policy category: Food insecurity
Program goals: To help hungry Americans find local food assistance programs.
How it works: Find Food Support is a website using a Google Maps tool to help individuals locate sources of free food in their communities. Google partnered with No Kid Hungry, FoodFinder, and the United States Department of Agriculture to identify more than 90,000 food support sites including food banks, food pantries, and school lunch pick-up locations across all 50 states.
Users enter their location (city, zip code, or street address) into the search bar on the website, and the map produces multiple blue bubbles that can be clicked on for more information about each site.
The website also provides links to support for seniors, military families, or families with children, hotlines, and state benefit guides.
Progress to date: Google has stated that searches for terms such as “food bank near me” and “food stamps application” reached record highs in the past year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, they created Find Food Support to make all resources related to food insecurity available in one place.
Why it is important: Feeding America indicated that in 2019, food insecurity rates in the US were the lowest that they had been in more than 20 years, with 10.9 percent of individuals (35 million) reporting living in a food-insecure household. When COVID-19 struck in 2020 and all non-essential businesses were shut down, however, the country entered an economic recession and unemployment reached a record high. As a result of unemployment, school closures, and food production shortages, 45 million people are estimated to have experienced food insecurity in 2020.
While the projections for 2021 show a slight decrease in food insecurity rates compared to 2020, 42 million are still expected to experience food insecurity, which is 7 million more than before the pandemic.
Program/Policy initiated: The tool was launched on June 29, 2021.
Point of contact: N/A
Similar practices: Many state food banks’ websites include search functions that will provide information about food assistance programs in a particular community, but Google’s tool appears to be the first to aggregate information for all 50 states on one platform.
Evaluation: This tool has not yet been evaluated.
- Assessing Food Insecurity among US Adults during the COVID-19 Pandemic (Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition)
- Food Assistance Programs (United States Department of Agriculture)
- Food Insecurity during COVID-19 (Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy)
- Understanding Food Insecurity (Feeding America)
- Connecting People to Food Support in their Community (Google)
- COVID-19 Brief: Impact on Food Security (United States Global Leadership Coalition)
- Find Food Support (Google)
- Google Launches Feature to Help Chicagoans Find Food Banks, Pantries, Free Lunches (Chicago Tribune)
- Google Launches ‘Find Food Support’ Tool to Combat Food Insecurity (PCMag)
- Google Launches ‘Find Food Support’ Site to Connect Hungry People with Food Providers (Penn Live)
- Google Launches New Search Tool to Help Combat Food Insecurity (The Verge)
- Google Releases New Tools to Help New Yorkers Access Local Food Resources (CBS News Albany)
- Google’s New Tool Helps People Find Food Support in their Community. Here’s How to Use It (CNET)
- The Impact of the Coronavirus on Food Insecurity in 2020 & 2021 (Feeding America)