In a new Keyword blog post, Google has detailed how it’s helping those in need to locate local food banks and pantries so that they can get the nutrition they deserve. More than 54 million people struggle through the year to remain fed for various reasons, but it feels most prevalent for the rest of us during the holidays. Having grown up relying on food pantries and food banks for all of my meals, I can attest first-hand how vital they are to the lives of many.
To deliver up-to-date and reliable information on these establishments, Google has partnered with WhyHunger and Hunger Free America to inject their data into Maps. Because of this, soup kitchens and other helpful support systems in this category can focus more on feeding people and much less on updating their Maps business listing, which takes time away from what’s most important.
Food banks have always been critical to making sure people have regular access to nutritious food, but the ongoing pandemic has drastically increased their role as a crucial lifeline in so many communities. With the need for their services doubling or even tripling in some areas, we want to make sure that the people who need them most can find them.The Keyword
Many of these locations don’t yet have websites, phone numbers, or practically any other information on the internet, but these partnerships make sure that they can be found on the service most people think of when searching for information – Google. The company has worked over the past two months to make 85,000 calls to food banks and pantries to verify their information. I wouldn’t be shocked if they accomplished this by employing Google Duo.
Additionally, Google is helping people use Search to find out how to receive and utilize food assistance benefits like SNAP. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a federal program that helps feed more than 40 million Americans each year, and since users have told the search giant that info on benefits is tricky to pin down, they’ve made it easier. Now, all you’ll need to do is search for “SNAP benefits”, and local and national resources will populate at the top of the results page!
Taking this a step even further, you can simply search for “grocery stores that accept EBT” (Basically, this is the “food stamps” benefits card”). Doing so will return a list of results pertaining to USDA-approved stores that accept the payment method. Saving time and energy connecting with benefit locations means you will have more time to actually shop and feed yourself and your family.
Lastly, Googlers have given more than $22 million in personal donations along with company-matched dollars to hunger relief organizations since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. First of all, I want to acknowledge how freaking cool that is. Well, Google itself is contributing an additional $2 million in support too! That’s $1 million in cash funding and another $1 million in donated ads from Google.org. This is going to 20 food banks, pantries, and innovative hunger relief organizations across the country.
If you have ever suffered from hunger or starvation, or know anyone who has, then you’ll know that all of this is fantastic news for anyone who has access to a piece of technology. Even if someone goes to a public library to access search, asks a passer-by to Google something for them, or invests in a budget smartphone in order to get information that can change their life, finding what they need will now be easier than ever.
I’m glad to see a company as large as Google putting in the work to organize the world’s information and make it truly accessible to everyone. Google does a lot wrong, but they do a lot right too, and for that, you’ve gotta give them some credit.