Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

UI student builds website mapping Iowa City meal locations for those in need

The closure of K-12 schools in response to COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many students without access to meals. Millions of students, in school districts big and small, rely on the free or discounted meals they eat at school.

Russell Martin, a senior at the University of Iowa, has created a website mapping out local food banks, soup kitchens and schools serving meals throughout the Iowa City area to residents in need. The map also includes locations for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Women, Infant, and Children program.

“Over spring break, I saw a story about some college students in California who had made a similar resource. They made this big map for the bay area with all the different places K-12 students could go to get meals,” said Martin. “I thought it would be useful to make something similar for the Iowa City area.”

Martin combined data using Google Maps and Google Sheets to create a map that features 41 sites in Iowa City and its surrounding communities. In addition to K–12 schools, food pantries, and soup kitchens, Martin included sites where individuals can apply for the state’s Food Assistance program, including WIC and SNAP.

The website includes a layout of Iowa City, and has different symbols depicting where schools, food pantries, soup kitchens and assistance programs are located, depending on a user’s needs.

Once a user clicks on a location, a tab on the left will provide them with information such as its address, hours, eligibility, website and contact information, and the provider.

Martin says he plans to create a tutorial to help others create similar projects for their own communities.

“I’m just a bored college kid making this. The people who are really doing the leg work for this kind of effort are the food bank associations and the schools,” said Martin. “I’m just trying to connect people with those amazing resources and groups.”


At Clay & Milk, we want to tell stories about the many ways entrepreneurs and startups are adapting and stepping up to combat coronavirus. Fill out this form to tell us your story and we will be in touch.

UI student builds website mapping Iowa City meal locations for those in need | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at mpatane@clayandmilk.com.
This Pop-up Is Included in the Theme
Best Choice for Creatives
Purchase Now