UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State School of Hospitality Management’s Food Decisions Research Laboratory (FDRL), directed by Amit Sharma, Edward Friedman and Stuart Mann Professor of Hospitality Management and associate director of the School of Hospitality Management, has launched a project that helps addresses food insecurity in Centre County, Pennsylvania.
The FDRL Free Food Map identifies locations throughout Centre County and others across the state that offer free food to those in need.
The project, produced in collaboration with the YMCA of Centre County, is particularly timely, as September is Hunger Action Month in Centre County. This proclamation by the Centre County Board of Commissioners is intended to draw attention to and provide support for the county’s nearly 8% of residents that experience food insecurity.
Using the FDRL Free Food Map, community members can identify free food distribution sites in their vicinity. After selecting a site on the map, they can obtain further information, including the site’s name or affiliate organization, address and distribution days or hours. Map users can also learn more about the site’s food-distribution-eligibility requirements and find contact information.
Beyond addressing community need, Sharma explained that the project provides a unique opportunity for students. “The Free Food Map project engages students in conducting active research projects that are highly relevant to the community. Also, importantly, the project emphasizes the school’s commitment to approaching our activities with a focus on sustainable development,” he said.
Sharma further detailed that the project aligns with one of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, goals which Penn State uses as a guiding framework for its broader sustainability efforts.
“Sustainable Goal No. 2 emphasizes our need for a hunger-free world — zero hunger,” Sharma said. “It is therefore relevant for us to look at the needs of our communities when it comes to those areas of our expertise.
Michael Matthews, a senior majoring in hospitality management at Penn State, worked on the Free Food Map project as a part of his studies.
“The Free Food Map Project will do so much good to combat food insecurity and the stigma surrounding the processes to acquire food,” said Matthews. “I believe this project has personally become one of several ways in which professionals of my industry can define ‘service.’”
The Free Food Map is an ongoing project, and the FDRL aims to expand the map’s coverage to include all of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and beyond. Those with comments or feedback on the project are invited to send their inquiries to Kimberly Impellitteri, research and teaching labs coordinator in the School of Hospitality Management, at [email protected].
About the School of Hospitality Management
Established in 1937, Penn State’s School of Hospitality Management is one of the nation’s oldest and most respected schools of hospitality management. Its top-ranked undergraduate and doctoral programs prepare global leaders with a rigorous, diverse curriculum focused, since its inception, on engaged scholarship, featuring partnerships with Penn State’s Hospitality Services, Housing and Food Services, and top global hospitality brands. It is also home to the oldest Penn State alumni program group, the Penn State Hotel & Restaurant Society. For more information about the school, contact Donna Quadri-Felitti, Marvin Ashner Endowed Director of the school, at [email protected] or 814-865-0081.
LAST UPDATED SEPTEMBER 22, 2023
About Penn State School of Hospitality Management
Established in 1937 Penn State’s School of Hospitality Management is one of the nation’s oldest and most respected. Its top-ranked undergraduate and doctoral programs prepare global leaders with a rigorous, diverse curriculum focused, since its inception, on engaged scholarship, featuring partnerships with Penn State’s Hospitality Services, Housing and Food Services, and top global hospitality brands. It’s also home to the oldest Penn State alumni program group, The Penn State Hotel and Restaurant Society.