UGA Database Creates Directory to Reduce Food Insecurity in Athens | City News

Across the Athens community, one of the greatest challenges that food insecure populations have faced has not been the lack of food distribution centers themselves, but rather the lack of available resources. listing the services provided.

To address this issue, the University of Georgia launched a database which works like a directory – listing the addresses of venues, the type of meal or food offered, and the location-specific requirements for recipients to receive food. The platform offers residents free access to this information for dozens of food distribution sites throughout the community.

Created and operated by UGA, the website is located on the Engage Georgia University platform and is part of the UGA Office of Service-Learning website, which also highlights opportunities for involvement local volunteer.

Students in UGA geography professor Hilda Kurtz’s class first worked to gather information about local food sharing sites, and the site now receives monthly updates that are sent via email. to more than 300 community partners, according to a UGA press release.

While individual distribution sites and other restaurants or organizations involved previously printed lists of their own dates and services, there were many inefficiencies caused by this distribution at the individual level.

The database consolidates information to reduce this inefficiency, so that a food-insecure resident will be aware of all locations providing assistance and can easily see any opportunities that may be occurring simultaneously.

Last month, Terrapin Beer Company employees packed bags full of groceries at the company’s facilities north of Athens for distribution to residents who met the income criteria for free food.

On the same day, downtown Chuck’s Fish and Five restaurants were also serving a hot meal and canned goods at the Sparrow’s Nest Christian ministry center, while the Salvation Army worked to distribute cold boxed meals, according to the Press release.

The previous month, in May, the website listed 108 individual food distributions.

Josh Podvin, assistant director of community partnerships in the Office of Service Learning within the UGA’s Public Service and Outreach Unit, said the database is long overdue. Now that he’s here, making his existence known is the most important thing.

“The more we can continue to let people know that there is a central place to learn about distributions, the more we will try to continue to do so,” Podvin said in the press release.

Overall, funding for this project was largely provided by Athens-Clarke County, with officials approving funds for the project through the Athens Eats Together program. Overall, the Athens Eats Together program first launched during the pandemic served more than 10,000 residents between September 2021 and April 2022 alone.

Another unexpected impact of the website has been how organizations have started to respond and collaborate more with each other since the launch of the database.

“A lot of [organizations] don’t collaborate with each other and much more can be done if they did,” said Patrick Howard, coordinator of Our Daily Bread Community Kitchen at First Baptist Church in Athens, in a UGA Today article. “That’s what I love about what UGA does because that’s what collaboration looks like. Just click a button and see everyone serving food. »

Those involved with the website hope that its services will continue to facilitate access to information for Athens residents who may need these services, and enable the full sharing of this information to shape the community for the better.

To see food distribution locations and events happening in the Athens community, visit the website here.