It’s a new year, the traditional time to resolve to lose weight (again), and to replace bad habits with good ones. But this year, I’m not going there. Did I overeat during the holidays? Yes. But forget my weight gain. What I want to focus on is why are so many of us overeating when so many others are going hungry. Why aren’t we using technology to fix this?
Dozens of businesses are sprouting up around food and technology—with a focus on capitalizing on our desire for fine dining. I won’t pretend that I’m a stranger to social media platforms that tip me off to the latest new restaurant opening, but what I’d love to see is some of this mindshare going toward helping to curb hunger. I’m not even talking about world hunger (yet) – I’m talking about in our own backyards. According to Feeding America, 48.8 million Americans lived in food insecure households during 2010. And according to a New York Times article a couple months ago, the number of kids signing up to receive subsidized lunches is increasing, due to the economy.
Enid Borden, President and CEO of Meals on Wheels Association in America recently wrote about this very topic. In her article, she quite eloquently asks, “How do we harness the power of imagination and creativity and put them to work in the human services domain? How do we prevent the foolishness of hunger in a food-rich land?”
Can we use our drive to deliver more engaging experiences through technology and apply it to finding new, safe, and efficient ways to divert food waste to those in need? To build social networks that identify where hunger is most prevalent and cross-reference where food surplus exists in a given community? Create a social platform that makes it easier for people to see where they can drop off food at special safe food depositories?
As Borden points out, Steve Jobs promoted the exhortation of the Whole Earth Catalog to “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.” But we can all agree that there’s a world of difference between hunger for experience or advancement versus hunger for food.
It’s a new year, indeed. Let’s make it one that puts technology not just toward our own success, but toward a better quality of living for those with whom we share our communities.