- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 13, 2016

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Homeless St. Louis youths who are hungry will be just a text message away from a meal under a pilot program that a company is planning to launch.

Not Impossible Labs LLC, a Venice, California-based company that works to create solutions to social justice issues, plans to launch the six-month pilot program via the youth homeless shelter Covenant House Missouri, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported (https://bit.ly/2gExzZx ).

Through the program, someone can text a code as well as the words, “hungry” or “meal.” That person will then receive a call or text asking for their location, followed by several high protein menu options from nearby restaurants. Volunteers with Not Impossible will then order the requested meal online and the organization will pay for it. Young people dealing with hunger would be able to pick up their food like any other customer.

Program manager Erika Suhr said she hopes the project will soon expand with non-governmental agencies nationwide to target youth and veterans.

Not Impossible Labs has been internationally recognized for its inventions. The company crowd-sources international support so the projects can grow.

When it started to study the issue of homeless youth and hunger, the lab found the problem was not lack of food, but that homeless youth had jobs but couldn’t afford rent.

Suhr said the texting-based program worked because so many homeless youth make having cellphones a priority, even more than obtaining food.

“There’s a huge opportunity here for us to connect food-insecure people this way,” Suhr said. She added that organizing a take-out food program for homeless people can save many hours they spend a day traveling to find food.

“If you can better control your day, you have more time to do more productive things,” she said. “You can get that degree or GED or you can find a better job.”

Census numbers show about 135,000 youth in St. Louis are at risk for hunger. Donors who are able to financially support the program’s meals can text 70175 to make a donation.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, https://www.stltoday.com


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