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Collaborative project maps hunger in Syracuse
Collaborative project maps hunger in SyracuseApril 16, 2004Cynthia J. Moritzcjmoritz@syr.edu
Where does hunger stalk the streets of Syracuse? Where is help available-or not? A new series of maps, to be unveiled by the Syracuse Hunger Project, in cooperation with Syracuse University’s geography department in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs on April 23, will provide governmental agencies and providers of emergency food aid with the answers to these and other questions about food need and availability in Syracuse. The unveiling will take place from 3-4:30 p.m. in the Public Events Room, 220 Eggers Hall. The event will be webcast live at http://www.maxwell.syr.edu/geo/syr_hp/hunger_proj.htm.
The Syracuse Hunger Project maps use the latest Geographic Information System (GIS) software to construct overlays using information from more than a dozen social service agencies in Syracuse as well as from 10 city, county and state agencies. Psychology and sociology students from Le Moyne College conducted a survey of food pantries in Syracuse as part of the project, while students in Prof. Jane Read’s Geographic Information Systems class in the Maxwell School produced the maps.
The Syracuse Hunger Project is coordinated by the Samaritan Center. Other social service agencies involved in the project include the United Way, the Interreligious Food Consortium and the Food Bank.
“The history of hunger-and the struggle to ameliorate it-has created a vastly uneven landscape where deep food insecurity can exist cheek by jowl with abundant wealth and comfort,” says Prof. Don Mitchell, chair of the geography department. “By bringing together a range of different kinds of data and creatively combining them to reveal patterns perhaps not easily seen by the unaided eye, the Syracuse Hunger Project gives us a new view of the landscape of hunger in Syracuse.”
After the presentation, the maps will be placed on SU Web servers where they will be maintained, updated and made continuously available to social service providers, government employees, researchers and the general public. Web searchers will have access not only to pre-made maps, but also to databases that will allow them to create new maps for their own purposes. Eventually, the project will be expanded to develop similar maps for Onondaga County and the Central New York region. The GIS methodology will also be made available to other jurisdictions around the state and the country.
The Syracuse Hunger Project steering committee expects that the maps will accomplish four aims: to suggest areas for immediate intervention; to identify long-term structural problems associated with hunger in Syracuse; to indicate issues for further research; and to define specific directions for further phases of the Hunger Project.