Associate Professor Tim Shea (Decision & Information Sciences) looks to solve community problems with computer-based solutions. His latest project is one that uses smartphones and the Internet to address food insecurity on the SouthCoast.
Working with Southcoast Serves, Shea is building an app with two components, the first called Food Finder that will allow those without reliable nutrition to find food in the region. The second component, Food Alert, will give organizations that have food a way to advertise that is available. The web version is live while the smartphone app is in the testing phase.
Through the service, a diverse group of local food providers with extra food to donate such as local farms or grocery stores can connect with free food distributors such as small food pantries as well as volunteers who transport the food. Bridging this gap through technology creates access for each individual to a much larger network of providers while each provider is connected to a broader and more efficient supply chain of food. This pairing hopes to make a difference for the many residents that face food insecurity across the SouthCoast region. In Massachusetts, one in seven households is food insecure while in Bristol County, nearly one in five children experience food insecurity.
To move this project forward, Shea teamed up with Deirdre Healy from the Leduc Center for Civic Engagement, Christine Sullivan of the 4C Collaborative and Coastline Elderly Services, Joyce Bettencourt of the Southeastern MA Food Security Network, and several undergraduate and graduate students.