Serving Households in AReas with food Insecurity with a Network for Good: SHARING
Lead PI:
Julie Ivy

This project seeks to address hunger relief in the US by maximizing equitable access to safe food, while considering the food preferences of food-insecure households, and simultaneously addressing redistribution of usable food that would otherwise be wasted. In the US, 10.5% of the households were food insecure in 2019, and that number increased by 29% in 2020 with the spread of COVID-19, according to the Feeding America Covid-19 impact assessment. Yet, it is estimated that 30–40% of food supply is wasted in the US. Working with two food banks in North Carolina and one in Alabama, each serving a range of counties—together with their associated networks of food-insecure households, food-secure households, other nonprofit organizations, and local businesses such as growers, supermarkets, restaurants, and other businesses in the service regions—the project team of academic and community partners will co-develop a community-based socially intelligent nonprofit food rescue and distribution infrastructure and platform to use community resources to equitably serve food-insecure households.

This project unites three aims to develop a socially intelligent nonprofit food rescue and distribution infrastructure to equitably serve food-insecure households by continually learning their preferences with feedback to upstream stages of the supply chain. Aim 1, Smart Sociotechnical Information Capturer and Predictor: Understand the behavior of donors, beneficiaries, and volunteers by creating a socially intelligent infrastructure that records data in real-time and learns evolving stakeholders' and end users' needs, preferences, and utilization over time. Aim 2, Tactical Supply Chain Planner: Design and optimize the community food sharing network in response to stakeholder behaviors by constructing a technology and data-driven supply chain framework that adapts to evolving stakeholder behaviors to best serve the hunger needs of food-insecure households within the community. Aim 3, Real-Time, Logistics Operations Optimizer: Satisfy beneficiary needs through communal self-renewal by connecting food-insecure households to community-based supply options in real-time, and optimizing real-time pickup and delivery logistics while adhering to food safety time windows. The proposed infrastructure will facilitate more effective food distribution aimed at reducing hunger while simultaneously enhancing sustainability.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Julie Ivy
Julie Simmons Ivy is a professor in the Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering and Fitts Faculty Fellow in Health Systems Engineering. She previously spent several years on the faculty of the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. She received her B.S. and Ph.D. in Industrial and Operations Engineering at the University of Michigan. She also received her M.S. in Industrial and Systems Engineering with a focus on Operations Research at Georgia Tech. She is a President of the Health Systems Engineering Alliance (HSEA) Board of Directors. She is an active member of the Institute of Operations Research and Management Science (INFORMS), Dr. Ivy served as the 2007 Chair (President) of the INFORMS Health Applications Society and the 2012 – 13 President for the INFORMS Minority Issues Forum. Her research interests are mathematical modeling of stochastic dynamic systems with an emphasis on statistics and decision analysis as applied to health care, public health, and humanitarian logistics. This research has made an impact on how researchers and practitioners address complex societal issues, such as health disparities, public health preparedness, hunger relief, student performance, and personalized medical decision-making and has been funded by CDC, NSF, Clinton Health Access Initiative, and the UNC Cancer Center.
Performance Period: 10/01/2021 - 09/30/2025
Institution: North Carolina State University
Award Number: 2125600