SnapFresh : Mobile & SMS based SNAP Retailer finder
Snapfresh : nearby fresh food for all budgets
SnapFresh is a text-message and mobile web app that helps people find places nearby that accept food stamps, now known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits through their phones. The app is available in Spanish, Chinese (Simplified) and English, both via SMS and a simple mobile web app that will run not just on smart phones, but on any phone that has access to the mobile web or the ability to send and recieve text messages.
Snapfresh also attempts to help the recipients make healthier food purchasing decisions by providing information about the type of store in the results, such as if the establishment is a grocery store or a liquor store.
How it Works
To use the application, simply send an SMS to (415) 349-3019 or visit snapfresh.org and enter an address and a zipcode (or city and state). A list of the names and addresses of retailers nearby that accept SNAP benefits will be returned.
While the application is live and works everywhere in the United States, we’ve been working closely with the civic leaders in San Francisco’s Human Services Agency, who are helping us pilot the application with SNAP recipients in the city this fall. After testing and revising the app based on performance and feedback, we will seek to publicize it in other cities, towns, and counties.
Because the goal of the application is to help recipients find healthy food options on any budget or schedule, and the next step for the application is to better highlight establishments nearby that are likely to have healthy options but may not be known to recipients. For instance, we hope to soon better highlight farmer’s markets that may have SNAP matching benefits, as well as other establishments with many fresh, healthy options.
With over 45 million people receiving SNAP as of May 2011 and several hundred thousand new participants signing on every month, tools to help people make the most of their benefits are sorely needed. SnapFresh is one such tool, allowing new recipients to find places which accept SNAP nearby on their phones, regardless of where they are.
SnapFresh is a Ruby on Rails app that relies on data from the USDA’s SNAP database, Tropo for SMS integration, Yelp for retailer categorization, and Google for geocoding of the addresses. The code is open source and available on github.