How DC civic hackers helped spread #BaltimoreLunch - DC


May 1, 2015 12:53 pm

How DC civic hackers helped spread #BaltimoreLunch

Local developer Rodney Cobb decided he couldn't sit back and let children miss their lunches because of school closures related to the unrest in Baltimore.

Children having lunch, as they should.

(Photo by Flickr user ubarchives, used under a Creative Commons license)

The day after Baltimore residents broke out into protests following the funeral of Freddie Gray, schools were closed, leaving 84,000 kids without classes — and many without a lunch.

So the #BaltimoreLunch hashtag spread like wildfire.

The tweets indicating where free lunches were being distributed throughout Baltimore caught the eye of a D.C. developer.

Rodney Cobb decided to put some harmony in the chaos of information. “I just couldn’t sit back and be like were not going to do nothing,” he said. “I just didn’t think that that was right.”

Even though schools were closed only Tuesday, Cobb added, supermarket closures could result in children going hungry for several more days. About 84 percent of Baltimore’s public school students are on free or reduced lunch.

Cobb tweeted a call to arms to fellow civic technologists. “I got the back end, somebody can do the front-end stuff,” said Cobb, the cofounder of GovReady, a government IT and cybersecurity compliance company.

Cobb, who is a member of Code for DC, soon received a response from local brigade co-captain Matt Bailey.

The coders quickly spit out a website that mapped free lunches based on information collected from social media.


Cobb and Code for DC are now considering porting over content to Finda, a Code for Boston app for mapping datasets.

Lalita Clozel

Lalita Clozel was the former DC Lead Reporter. She has written for, the Los Angeles Times and Philadelphia City Paper. As a student at the University of Pennsylvania, she wrote for The Daily Pennsylvanian, covering legal affairs, city politics and labor unions.


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