Google has launched a new tool that helps people find food support in their local community. It’s a cause that has long been close to the search giant’s heart – so much so that in his 2013 Google I/O keynote, co-founder Larry Page said, “You know, people are starving in the world not because we don’t have enough food. It’s because we’re not yet organized to solve that problem.” The new tool gives local food banks increased visibility, right in time for the holiday season.
With its new initiative to make local information about food banks and pantries more prominent in Search and Maps, Google is making great strides in finding solutions. As searches for food banks and pantries have increased over the course of the pandemic, Google has developed new tools to help those in need find assistance more easily.
Let’s learn more about this new tool.
The new Find Food Support With Google landing page offers separate resources for those who would like to find a food bank to use its services and those who would like to support Feeding America.
Clicking on the Find Food Support call to action button opens a new browser tab auto-populated with the Google search query:
Philipp Schindler, Chief Business Officer at Google, explained in the launch blog post that food security has long been a passion he has shared with colleagues.
“In Google’s early days, around this time every year, a group of us would run to Costco and buy supplies to take to Bay Area food banks and pantries. It was a grassroots effort that was scrappy and meaningful — and it introduced a lot of Googlers to how rewarding giving back can be,” he wrote.
“It made me want to learn what more we could do to have an even bigger impact,” Schindler wrote, adding that the experience led him to become a passionate advocate for the Second Harvest Food Bank in Silicon Valley.
In 2020, Google established a dedicated team to work on finding solutions for food waste and food insecurity.
“The COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis that followed exacerbated hunger for millions of people,” Emily Ma, head of Food for Good at Google, wrote in a blog post. “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.”
The need for these services has doubled and even tripled this year in some regions, Google said, and they are working to make nearby local food banks more visible in search results.
Google is Drawing Food Bank Data Direct from Nonprofit Partners
“We’ve added information to make sure people searching for food support can find what they need,” the announcement stated. “These changes are being made directly in Google Maps so food banks, food pantries, and soup kitchens can focus on what matters most — getting people food.”
Google has also worked for over two months to ensure that food bank Google Business Profile listings are verified and that key business information, such as their phone number and website URL, are correct. This has been no easy task; according to Google, its own team members have made over 85,000 phone calls to obtain this information.
New Google Business Profile Features for Food Bank Listings
Google has established a portal for food banks and pantries to claim their business listing, with step-by-step instructions to get them started.
Local food banks and pantries have access to specific fields and attributes that can help searchers find essential information such as:
- Whether an appointment is needed to access services
- What languages are spoken at the location
- Whether users must meet eligibility requirements to access the food bank’s services
- Whether food delivery or prepared meals are available
- Whether the location is accepting new volunteers or monetary donations in support of its program
How to Find Food Support Near You
Enter the web address findfoodsupport.withgoogle.com on your desktop or mobile device. You have several options as you navigate down the page:
- Choose to Find Food Support on Google using the prominent button above the fold or the button in the next section.
- Search for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to find detailed information about eligibility requirements and links where you can apply.
- Search for “grocery stores that accept EBT” to find grocery stores that accept Electronic Benefits Transfer cards for payment.
- Browse specific supports for seniors, families with children, military families, and more.
Googlers have contributed over $22 million in personal donations and company-match to hunger relief organizations since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
The company pledges to continue supporting food security initiatives and says, “This holiday season, we’re contributing an additional $2 million in support. We’re giving $1 million in cash funding and $1 million in donated ads from Google.org to 20 food assistance organizations across the US.”