Back in November, we reported that Georgia non-profit Food Finder GA re-launched its web app, a product designed to connect hungry kids and families to a source of “free food, close by, right now, so that they don’t have to worry about their next meal every day.”
The app uses geo-targeting to locate the user and directs them to the closest, free food resource.
The project was originally intended for Gwinnett County residents, but in May 2015, the site expanded to serve the entire state of Georgia: more than 1.7 million kids in more than 2,300 public schools through more than 1,700 resource providers.
The idea for Food Finder started in early 2013, when Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes interviewed a 12-year-old girl and her 10-year-old brother. Medical bills for their late mother cost the family everything including bankruptcy and losing their home. The two kids and their father lived in their truck, not knowing where their next meal might come from.
Fifeteen-year-old Jack Griffin saw the program and asked himself what he worried about when he was 10 or 12 years old and finding food wasn’t on his radar.
Jack didn’t have an idea of what children living in poverty even looked like. In January 2014, he started researching Georgia poverty, and the homeless services coordinator for the Gwinnett County Public Schools informed him that there are children living in spaces meant for boxes and furniture. After being exploited out of what little money they have by cheap, unsafe hotels, storage units are the last resort for poor families if they want a roof over their head. Jack, like many others, had no idea the kinds of struggles that happen to other families right down the street from him.
After watching this piece, Jack decided to help kids in his own community. He wanted to join in the fight against child hunger and food insecurity in Georgia, but he sought to do something more than just volunteering at a food bank. He wanted to do something that would serve many kids and would last.
“It’s not about my accomplishments. It’s about getting the word out there to those whom FoodFinder can help.”- Jack Griffin
Through the surprisingly arduous task of trying to find free food resources in Gwinnett County – home to 10% of all the public school kids in Georgia - he had the idea to create this app to locate free food such as food banks, soup kitchens, and co-ops. A tool that can tell those kids where to receive food for no cost based only their current location, their school’s name or any address they entered.
Because of Jack’s efforts, he received the 2015 Kids Who Care Award for making a difference in the Atlanta community. He received a $1,100 scholarship from 11Alive, The Junior League of Atlanta and Arby's Foundation. He also received the 2014 TAG Excalibur Award for Most Creative Solution to a Problem using Technology.
Photo by: Suwanee Magazine
A phase 2 mobile version of the app is planned for the coming months. As this app expands its resource partnerships, the goal is to continue to serve Georgia’s food-insecure families. By just spreading the word, we can start to help those in need one day at a time.