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Solving Cincinnati's Current Hunger Crisis By The Numbers

Courtesy of the Freestore Foodbank
One of many donations to the Freestore Foodbank. This one is from Luminant’s Miami Fort Power Plant.";

Food for the hungry is now within walking distance for hundreds more Cincinnatians after a team of problem solvers used data analytics to strategically place food distribution centers closer to them.

As part of The Kroger Co.'s Zero Hunger/Zero Waste initiative, the city of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati Public Schools and 84.51° harvested valuable information about food insecurity and then put it to use.

84.51° Data Scientist Charles Hoffman explains he pulled in all of the census demographic data, overlaid that with the largest concentrations of childhood poverty and then compared locations of food distribution centers to see where the gaps where.

"Some of the primary ones were (The Villages at) Roll Hill (formerly Fay Apartments), in need of a location closer to them and the corridor between Price Hill and the Westwood area," he says.

Hoffman says what made the project easier was software from ESRI, free to anyone using it for anything COVID-19 related.

Hoffman explains how he developed the map and how it works.


Both Hoffman and UC Assistant Professor Dr. Carley Riley of Cincinnati Children's say this mathematical model can work in any scenario. "As we started to connect with the families in our network and we're hearing from them, not only was food a concern but so is access to other basics such as hygiene and sanitation," says Riley.

Hoffman says the mapping is also being used for the refugee and immigrant populations to get them the COVID-19 information they need.

Other partners include All Children Thrive Learning Network and the Health Network by Cincinnati Children's.

With more than 30 years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market, Ann Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology.