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Quick takes: 5 cities, 5 diverse approaches to reducing hunger

This information provided by Smart Cities Council North America.


When the stakes are high – and they certainly are when it comes to solving food insecurity around the world – there's every reason to share success stories and innovative approaches that may inspire others. This week in our "Quick takes" series we explore five intriguing efforts to reduce hunger. – Liz Enbysk


New York City councilman seeks city web portal to facilitate food donations
Councilman Rafael Espinal introduced legislation last month to help the 16.4% of New Yorkers he says lack access to nutritious food. His idea is to create a web portal that makes it easier for restaurants, supermarkets and the like to connect with nonprofits who feed the hungry. His proposal would require the city's Department of Sanitation, in conjunction with the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, to create and maintain a web portal that allows prospective food donors and recipients to post notifications concerning the availability of food, including food that would otherwise go to waste, and to arrange for its transportation or retrieval.

Police use social media to "Arrest Hunger" in the Fox Cities
Law enforcement agencies in the Fox Cities of Northeastern Wisconsin have a friendly competition going to curb hunger in their communities. They started Operation Arresting Hunger in January and each month, according to an NBC26 report, they ask their communities for donations of a specific food and post their progress on social media -- #ArrestingHunger. The Appleton PD won January's competition by collecting the most peanut butter; the Fox Valley Metro PD took top honors for jelly donations in February. The result saw 12,600 pounds of peanut butter and jelly delivered to an area food bank.

From 6th of October City to Cape Town, a micronutrient campaign gets personal
A food safety and quality leader at Kraft Heinz working in the Egyptian city 6th of October, Ahmad Saeed and his family prepare, pack and distribute cooked meals to government hospitals and the homeless every month. Each year, for the 30 days starting on Ramadan, he sets up a public restaurant in the streets to hand out iftar (free meals for the underprivileged). Last month company leaders selected him to fly to Cape Town, South Africa to connect with the beneficiaries of the Kraft Heinz Micronutrient Campaign, which delivers essential vitamins and nutrients in hunger-relief sachets to underserved families. "At Kraft Heinz, fulfilling our vision of Growing A Better World means doing everything we can to end global hunger and malnutrition," Saeed said. "Getting to meet the children and families who benefit from our efforts has given me a much deeper appreciation for why this work is so important. It was amazing to see how our company’s meals are helping communities in need."

Something's fishy about this LA hackathon
A recent hackathon hosted by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) in Los Angeles focused on using geospatial information to "to better understand, model, visualize and monitor the nexus between food security and regional stability in Morocco." Explaining NGA's involvement, a captain explained in a FedScoop report on the event that food insecurity can be an indicator of potential crisis in a region. Many of the hackathon teams focused on crops. But the winning team from the University of Southern California focused on Morocco's fishery, where some 40% of fish spoil before they reach their destinations. As the team explained it, their solution built on a series of data including port location, road network, population centers and fishery supply to efficiently get the most fish to the most people before it can spoil.

How they're fighting seasonal hunger in Rangpur, Bangladesh
Millions of people globally go through a "hunger season" every year before new crops are ready. In Northern Bangladesh, the Financial Times reports that this season known as "Monga" sees families face starvation, even though there is work available in cities. Researchers led by a Yale professor from Bangladesh have tried to find a way to encourage more people to go to the cities using controlled groups like a drug  trial – using heightened awareness about the opportunities with one group and another group about $11.25, enough for bus fare and food for a couple of days. Raising awareness didn't get results, but offering money did. The findings have led a Bangladeshi NGO to expand the "No Lean Season" initiative to involve 300,000 households in Rangpur to see if it can scale. If the evidence suggests it can, the expectation is it will be rolled out even further.

More from this series:
Quick takes: 5 cities, 5 assorted initiatives helping the homeless

Want to share how your city is innovating to include?  Send us an email!

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This article is from the Council's Compassionate Cities initiative which highlights how city leaders and other stakeholders can leverage smart technologies to end suffering in their communities and give all citizens a route out of poverty. Click the Compassionate Cities box on our registration page to receive our weekly newsletter.

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