Archive for October, 2011

October 25, 2011

Turning Chicago’s Food Deserts into an Oasis of Better Food Options

Finding more food options including farmers markets in Chicago

The twitter and online universe is abuzz today  about Michelle Obama and Mayor Ram hosting a food summit here in Chicago to tackle the longstanding issues of food deserts in neighborhoods.

 How can over 600,000  Chicagoans not have access to healthy food options? (source David Heinzmann , Chicago Tribune October 25).

Think that’s unacceptable? Well, we do too and now it seems,  people are mobilizing around this endemic problem and with the help of high profile Chicagoans, like First Lady Obama and Ram Emanuel the problem is starting to be addressed. According to a recent article by  Grocers are being incentivized to move in ‘food deserts’ and corporations like Kraft and WalMart are going to build or retrofit buildings to allow for more healthy options.   It’s a start, it doesn’t necessarily change behavior overnight, but access is a first step.

At iFinditChicago, available in the Android store for free, we’re all about access, and can say we’re doing our part to share information about vital resources.   Although we wish the city had more farmers markets in places considered food deserts, we do list the ones that many people probably don’t know exist and include hours of operation.   Seems like a small move, but more Farmers markets  accepting  SNAP/Food stamps could translate to heathier eating habits and better health outcomes.

In Chicago, there’s no desert of ideas…we just need to implement practical solutions faster and more effectively.

October 20, 2011

Giving Good Directions

While talking about iFinditChicago and sharing what it does, the reactions we come across are similar:

Listener: Wow that sounds really cool.

iFinditFolks: It is!  You can sort by…. and it brings up ALL….. and it’s so easy to use…. and we’re really excited about it.

(Eyebrows raise and then, a pause and a hesitancy to speak)

Listener:  I… uh…. don’t want to sound insensitive… but how can someone who needs food assistance, afford a smartphone?

Listen, listener, you aren’t insensitive.  It’s a question we come across A LOT.  That’s why we did our research.  That’s why we wrote this blog post. 

Basically, mobile phones are becoming a population’s primary access to the internet.  And what does the internet provide?  A: EVERYTHING.  (Except for hugs, but I’m sure there will be an app for that.)  Without having to buy the hardware of a computer, the software that makes it worth owning and the internet provider, you could get all of that in a hand-held mobile device.  Especially with no-contract providers making it more affordable, people have access to information that they may not have had before.

For Example: Popular-in-growth companies like Virgin Mobile, BoostMobile and Cricket, known for their pre-paid and contract-free services, have an average charge of $35-$50 a month compared to more expensive plans with AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon that charge anywhere from $120-$350 a month for mobile data and text plans (www.phonestatistics.com).  In fact, mobile services like M-PESA have been helping people in low-income populations as far as Kenya, find a way to empower their lives through hand-held devices.  If you’re going by the odds alone, according to Mobiledia, “the number of cell phones in U.S. now outnumbers its population.”  Therefore, how could this medium be anything other than the perfect portal to reach people in need?

Even for someone who has the luxury of time and unlimited access to information, searching through mounds of data can be frustrating.  That’s why we are excited to do what we are doing — to take the struggle out of searching and put the power back into finding.  The tools of empowerment are out there, we are just putting up the road signs to give people better direction.

Stuff You Need Up Ahead

October 18, 2011

Winner of A4MC Community Round!

Winner!

We here at iFinditChicago are so incredibly excited and honored to have received first place in the Community Round of the Apps for Metro Chicago contest!  iFinditChicago also won the the State Prize; an addendum award given to the app that best-used state data.  Thank YOU for voting for us and for giving us your support!  It is an honor to share the accomplishments among so many other talented people who developed apps that will continue to reshape our society for the better.

Good News in the News:

Elizabeth Park talks about why she started this project and the partners that really helped us in our development:

Call To Action!

In addition to winning first place, we also received $5,000 which we will be reinvesting into the community.

We’re looking for organizations to partner with us to increase the use of this tool.  If you are part of an organizations and/or an individual who feels compelled to help us foster changes in our community, please contact, elizabeth@ifinditchicago.com.

Thank you!

October 8, 2011

iFinditChicago – An Apps for Metro Chicago Finalist!

That’s right – iFinditChicago is one of the 10 finalists for the Apps for Metro Chicago competition!  Out of 35 applications submitted, we are one of the lucky contenders.

We’re hitting up the media market with our press release and our mention in Crain’s.  No big whoop, we’re just changing lives.  We may not have a superhero cape, but scrubbing through city data to make it digestible for people is a heroic act that never got on a comic strip storyboard.  Here are the other finalists working hard to make Chicago a better place:

  • Chicago Service Request
  • OkCoPay
  • allSchedules
  • Techno Finder
  • Vacant and Abandoned
  • Fixit!
  • Chicago Local Guide
  • Mi Parque
  • Got Game?

Voting is Now Open!

That means you can vote for us!  So… ok, we’ll just come out and say it — vote for us!

Right here —–>  http://www.appsformetrochicago.com/user/register

You have to create a user account, but it’s super easy.  They will ask you a math question to make sure you’re a human person and not some web crawling robot itching to exercise its democratic right.  Although, I bet robots would really dig our app – it is built for Androids.  Don’t let it stop you from voting though, we need your support.  Voting closes at 5 p.m. on October 14. We have less than a week to get your vote!

Please help us by voting by October 14.  The team at iFinditChicago has been working hard to make this app not just a contender in a competition but a real-live contender in connecting a community.

Thank you for your support!