Boston Launches Food Resources Chatbot and Online Food Donation Platform

The mayor of Boston, Kim Janey and the Mayor’s Office of Food Access (OFA) have launched a food resources SMS chatbot and the online food donations platform. Both initiatives are part of Boston’s Food Access Agenda, which aims to strengthen the citywide food access network

“Ensuring every Boston resident has access to nutritious meals is essential to building an equitable City,” said Mayor Kim Janey. “I’m excited to introduce this creative option to reduce food insecurity. This tech tool enables residents to connect with or provide services when it’s most convenient for them.” 

The Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics (MONUM) worked with the Mayor’s Office of Food Access to create the food resources chatbot. It’s based on the successful food delivery chatbot created during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The goal of this new tool is to offer a centralized source of food resources information that is available 24/7, in eight different languages, and does not require internet connectivity. 

“By reducing digital and language barriers, the Office of Food Access’ goal is to create a more equitable food system where everyone is welcome and can be connected with the resources they need,” said Catalina López-Ospina, Mayor’s Office of Food Access Director. “In the first iteration of the chatbot we received very positive feedback from residents and we hope this tool helps residents navigate all the resources that are available in the City.”

The online food donations platform was created by the Office of Food Access to encourage connections between those that have food available for donation and those that need it or can distribute it. The exchange of food is handled solely by the donor and receiver, but the food donations that are posted are approved by the Office of Food Access to avoid misuse of the platform.