Mapping Food Insecurity vs. Agency Supply

Student Classification


Faculty Mentor

Dr. Lauren Davis


Civil Engineering

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2019


As poverty and unemployment rates increase, the number of food insecure households in North Carolina has the potential to increase. In order to counteract the effects of food insecurity within the state, the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina operates as a distributor of donated food. The biggest challenge with this donation driven environment is uncertainties associated with the supply and demand of the 800 plus food bank partners. Qualified partner agencies include food pantries, shelters, soup kitchens, group homes, and even food drives. Factors such as unemployment rate, and income can influence the number of households in need within the locality of agencies. This research provides a decision support tool that can assist the food bank in determining where and when to recruit new agencies to meet the needs of the food insecure population. Our decision support tool incorporates spatial and temporal factors that characterize food supply, access, and need. We develop a predictive score that identifies areas of unmet need throughout the service area. We then develop a visualization of the score and show how it changes over time as a function of increasing population demand and food supply. Our resulting model can be useful to decision makers in the recruitment of new food agencies, which can improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the distribution of food within the entire service region.

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