Google has announced the creation of a new site dedicated to providing information about food assistance to those in need.
In a blog post, head of Food for Good Emily Ma wrote that the new Find Food Support site was created because Google saw a record number of searches for "food bank near me," "Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)," "food stamps application" and "school lunch pick up."
Users can put their zip code into a map through the site and find the nearest food bank, food pantry or school lunch program pickup site.
"The COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis that followed exacerbated hunger for millions of people. Feeding America estimates that the number of those without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable food grew to 45 million people in 2020, including 15 million children. That equates to one in seven Americans and is a nearly 30% increase from 2019," Ma explained.
"We worked with No Kid Hungry, FoodFinder and the US Department of Agriculture to capture 90,000 places with free food support across 50 states -- with more locations to come."
Ma noted that families were hit hard with the closure of schools, where millions of children get some of their only meals each day. Many local governments were forced to continue providing food for families that could be picked up throughout the day.
According to Ma, Black and Latino communities, disabled Americans and military families were particularly affected by the lack of free school lunch programs in some areas.
"The stigma associated with getting help can be a barrier for many. We want people to know they're not alone. Find Food Support features stigma-busting videos demonstrating that food insecurity impacts all kinds of people and highlights volunteers and organizations from around the country who have stepped up to feed their communities," Ma added.
In addition to the maps provided by Google, the site also has dozens of links to guides for each state, hotlines for food support and other information tailored to seniors, families and children, and military families.
There is even information for those looking to donate to food banks or volunteer to help support organizations providing free meals to those in need.