WINNER: Runners Up
SMS-based PhillySNAP seeks to connect low-income, technologically isolated Philadelphia residents with fresh local food sources. How it works: PhillySNAP users text their address (house number and street) from a basic cell phone to a local phone number 267-293-9387 and users receive the following informative texts:
- Address, hours, days, and distance to the closest Farmer’s Market accepting SNAP benefits,
- Address and distance to the two nearest retail stores accepting SNAP benefits using the USDA API,
- A randomized text about one of several programs to maximize SNAP benefits through affordable fresh local food programs.
In addition to information about Farmer’s Markets and retailers accepting SNAP benefits, PhillySNAP provides additional (and unsolicited) information on Philadelphia-based programs connecting low-income, food desert communities with fresh, local food sources. PhillySNAP fills information gaps for consumers and incentivizes retailers to sell fresh, local food in order to get free promotion through the PhillySNAP hotline. The programs currently promoted through the service include: the Philly SHARE program, Philly Food Bucks program, Double (SNAP) Dollars program, Fresh for All by Philabundance, and important phone numbers for WIC users and Seniors. Information about all of these programs was found and remains available online.
PhillySNAP intentionally connects non-internet users, 41% according to a recent Knight Foundation study, with information typically available online. The goal of the SMS-based tool is to increase healthy eating in vulnerable populations via improved access to quality fresh, local foods while simultaneously supporting local food growers and stimulating the local food producing economy.
The PhillySNAP team has connected with local food advocacy groups to promote it’s usage. In the coming months, food advocacy partners will include PhillySNAP in citywide marketing campaigns with the Department of Health and on public transportation with plans to incorporate a link with directions to each location via public transit for individuals using smartphones. Those without a smartphone will still receive the texts with location, hours, days and distance to closest market and retailers as well as informational texts.
The PhillySNAP phone number and application is up and running! Currently it is an English-based service, but depending on the success of the pilot, we hope to build an additional Spanish-based phone number as well.
The data on farmers markets in Philadelphia was provided by the Food Trust, and data on SNAP retailers in Philly was obtained from the US Department of Agriculture. All of the data used by PhillySNAP has been geo-coded and released in an open format (JSON) which any developer or interested party can download, copy or use. These data sets currently reside inPHLAPI.com