Machine Learning Helps Reduce Food Insecurity During COVID-19

esearchers in Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute were able to use machine learning technology to reduce food insecurity in Pennsylvania communities during the pandemic.

The team leveraged advanced analytics tools to create cost-effective bus routes that allow nonprofit organizations to deliver meals to senior citizens, as well as K-12 students and families who would otherwise rely on schools for free meals. The machine learning tools identified ideal distribution locations to reach as many people as possible, three days a week.

The program began in July, and nearly 6,000 meals are delivered each month. It has since expanded to include dinners that feed a family of four.

Carnegie Mellon’s Metro21: Smart City Institute leads the project alongside Allies for Children, United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania and the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. While the idea of route optimization originally came about a year ago, the team had to reimagine the plan after the onset of the pandemic.