At RHoK Philadelphia in June of 2011, four participants came together and created something that served a real need. The problem was simple: individuals participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) had no way of easily locating farmers’ markets providing fresh and healthy food that accepted SNAP benefits.
The answer was clear: the team needed to build a database of the location of farmers’ markets in Philadelphia that accept SNAP benefits. Then they would allow individuals to text any address to a local phone number and receive an SMS response with the nearest farmers’ market, along with the hours it is open. The SMS-based approach would ensure a higher level of penetration than Internet access or smart phones. The focus on fresh farmers’ market food promotes healthy eating and supports local farmers and businesses. The result is PhillySNAP
, using Voxeo’s SMSified
The PhillySNAP team partnered up with the Food Trust, a Philadelphia organization dedicated to “ensuring that everyone has access to affordable, nutritious food.” And just a few months later, PhillySNAP information began appearing on pamphlets and other information promoted by the organization. The Food Trust has printed and distributed thousands of these pamphlets at farmers’ markets and corner stores around Philadelphia.
This project represents so much of what RHoK is all about: The collaboration of four motivated individuals (Danny Chang, Mark Headd, Katey Metzroth and Tim Wisniewski), partnership between local businesses and non-profits (Voxeo, the Food Trust), and actual community impact. And there is more to come! In addition to PhillySNAP being selected for an award by the Federal Communication Commission’s “Apps for Communities Contest”
, the team is looking for ways to pair the project with other similar efforts around the country such as San Francisco’s SNAP Fresh