Student’s Map Becomes a Pandemic Resource

Nearly one of every five Philadelphia residents are unable to always afford sufficient food, according to Hunger Free America. With the COVID-19 pandemic, this problem could become a crisis. One graduate student found herself with a research project that took on a whole new importance. With the help of BatchGeo, she mapped free food resources in her neighborhood of South Philly.

View Free Food in South Philly in a full screen map

Laura Rathsmill is a graduate student at Widener University studying social work. Professor Marina Barnett assigned a project about food insecurity, so Rathsmill decided to research her neighborhood. “Then COVID-19 happened, so there became a special focus on food insecurity,” she told the South Philly Review.

Laura Rathsmill

Rathsmill intensified her research to create a comprehensive guide to free food in South Philly, covering its four zip codes. She organized the data in a spreadsheet with columns for special populations served, hours, and types of resources. Importantly, each location also includes an address.

Excel documents with location data can easily be converted into a map when you copy and paste them into BatchGeo. That’s exactly what Rathsmill did, making her map of food resources browsable by anyone in need.

There have been huge lines at locations that serve everyone. Rathsmill’s map can be used to only display sites serving children, for example. The color of map markers note the populations served. Map viewers can also click specific marker types to display only those that are selected.

Visualizing resources like this on a map helps people understand what options are closest. It might also aid social workers to determine areas currently being overlooked, based on where there are fewer locations.

You can bring important data to your community with a free BatchGeo map.