Smart City & Food Equity

Fresh Food for the Smart City

Our cities are sites of both extreme wealth and extreme poverty. In in recent years, the gulf between them has become a chasm. Access (or lack thereof) to fresh food is one way in which this inequality manifests itself. Food deserts are present in some of the world’s most affluent cities, the same cities where food waste is reaching record levels. Food banks and other efforts to redistribute food have typically struggled to get fresh food into the hands of those in need before it expires. Recognizing this, two computer scientists in Chicago adopted a high tech approach to connect more than 100 food donors with 250 non-profits. Even with a responsive digital approach, the pair, who run the non-profit Zero Percent, have been challenged by inconsistency and tight expiry dates. However, their program is learning, and can now identify patterns in donation and demand, improving efficiency and reducing waste. Zero Percent has plans to expand, and is one example of how the smart city can help achieve the equitable city.

Mitchell Reardon

Mitchell Reardon is the TH!NK by IBI blog curator, a land use planner and urban experimenter. His interdisciplinary work centres on people and how they live, work and move through the city. Mitchell is enjoying life in Vancouver, after 6 years of living and working in Stockholm, Sweden. Catch up with him on Twitter: @MitchellReardon

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