Each year, children, seniors and adults in Franklin County go hungry for about 70 million meals. Neighbors in our community struggle to access healthy food for a number of reasons, including lack of financial means as well as lack of access to transportation that can get them to food that meets their health or cultural needs.

    Photo credit: Mid-Ohio Foodbank

While it can be challenging for residents to access the food they need, it's also a logistical challenge for commercial food vendors to efficiently and effectively donate to the food pantry system. Food pantries are also challenged to proactively identify shifts in demand for emergency food and coordinate the response of providers in a fair and equitable manner.

But what if we could use data to help? What if trip planning apps could help a Columbus mom find a supply of food that suits her child's medical needs on the way to school or work? What if real-time data on the supplies of food at all area pantries could help commercial vendors understand where their donation could do the most good? Or, what if navigation apps could help residents map their route to work not by the fastest trip, but by the most charitable trip-plotting a food delivery to a homebound senior along the way?

By partnering with organizations including Columbus Public Health, Mid-Ohio Foodbank, HandsOn Central Ohio and The Ohio State University, Smart Columbus wants to enhance food access in our community. We're providing data that can help connect the dots between food supply and food demand to reduce food insecurity in our community.

We're publishing data sets including the comprehensive PantryTrak of Mid-Ohio Foodbank, which notes local pantry locations, hours and eligibility information; HandsOn Central Ohio's Community Resource Data, which notes areas of need and related resources; and transportation options, such as bus schedules from the Central Ohio Transit Authority.

We hope that developers will partner with us to bring this data together to help hungry families find food, and make it easier for those residents to transport it home. We also believe data can help us find better ways to route deliveries between the provider, the pantry and the individual, or make sure that the right amount of food is delivered at the right time to avoid surpluses in some areas, and need in others.

We invite you to access the following data feeds and use them to innovate new solutions that will enable fewer people go to bed hungry in our community.

Explore Food Data
Explore Transportation Data
Explore Finance Data
Explore Retail Data