Put the Give in Thanksgiving

10647405714_5d9802d7c8Thanksgiving is almost here–a day which for many of us means a carousel of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and pie. Before you sit down to dinner this year, here are five ways you can help others access food and services.

1) Spread the word about SnapFresh

SnapFresh is a text-message and mobile web app that helps people find places nearby that accept food stamps, now known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits. The app is available in Spanish, Chinese, and English, both via SMS and a simple web app.

2) Advocate for LIVES in your city

Developed in collaboration with the City of San Francisco and Yelp, the Local Inspector Value-entry Specification (LIVES) is an open data specification which helps municipalities standardize restaurant inspection information and publish to Yelp or any other website. Get your city to participate.

Transparency is good for public health outcomes. When the City of Los Angeles required that restaurants display hygiene grade cards on their entrances, studies found it led to a 13 percent decrease in hospitalizations due to food borne illness.

3) Fork, post issues, or build an app to the Ohana API on GitHub

The Ohana API is an open directory of services that aims to make community services discoverable. For communities to thrive, every member of the community needs to know what services are available in times of need.

Feeling ambitious. Build an app on top of the Ohana API. Check out Ohana SMS, a project to create an SMS interface for the API.

4.) Pantry Pickup

Pantry Pickup is a project by Code for Boston to aid citizens in finding their local food pantries to make donations. The ultimate goal of the application is two-fold: to increase individual donations to food pantries and 2) allow food pantries to request or “register” for food needs specific to their communities.

At present, the application consists of a map-based pantry finder built on a database of over 500 food pantries in Eastern Massachusetts ranging in location from Worcester to Cape Cod, and allows users to find their closest food pantry – along with contact information and hours of operation – by utilizing GPS or direct address lookup. As a next step, we’re conducting a user research effort with pantry operators to help us understand how we can best support their food inventory needs.

How you can help
Right now, the dataset is restricted to the metro Boston area. If you would like us to include your city in Pantry Pickup, send us your pantry data – you can use this CSV file as a model. If you are affiliated with a pantry or food bank and would like to help us understand how your organization handles its inventory process, please email our lead researcher, Kristen Weber. For general feedback and ideas, hit us at [email protected] And if you are a developer, feel free to fork the app or browse the issues on Github. We love pull requests!

5) Volunteer in your community on Thanksgiving

Many community organizations set up programs for volunteers to help serve others on Thanksgiving Day. Find a place in your community to serve meals or bring them to others.

* Photo by Daniel X O’Neill.


Questions? Comments? Hit us up @codeforamerica.

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