Examining Emergency Food Access in Western Massachusetts Using ArcGIS

Among the four beautiful counties that make up Western Massachusetts, hunger looms over one in every eight people. According to Feeding America, one in every eleven people in Massachusetts are suffering from food insecurity, and while more people are going hungry, there are far less resources for emergency food access in Western Massachusetts than in the rest of the state. Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed nearly everything, and more families around the globe are facing hunger than ever before. In looking at Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties we raise the question, what does emergency food access look like in Western Massachusetts, and how has it been affected by COVID-19? The purpose of this research is to use programs ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS Online to look at the accessibility of emergency food to residents of Western Massachusetts in times both before and during the COVID-19 Pandemic on interactive maps, while building charts and graphs as supporting figures. This research will assist us in learning which communities are suffering with no or little access to emergency food, and what kind of resources are in place for cities and rural towns in Western Massachusetts. The results of this study will aid plans to improve food accessibility and hunger in communities close to home, and act as a resource to assist in finding emergency food in these communities.

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