Digital Strategies to Improve Food Assistance in Disasters: A Scoping Review

Nina M. Martin, Samantha M. Sundermeir, Daniel J. Barnett, Ellen J.I. Van Dongen, Lori Rosman, Andrew J. Rosenblum, Joel Gittelsohn

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objective: Modern digital strategies, including Internet of Things, machine learning, and mobile applications, have revolutionized situational awareness during disaster management. Despite their importance, no review of digital strategies to support emergency food security efforts has been conducted. This scoping review fills that gap. Methods: Keywords were defined within the concepts of food assistance, digital technology, and disasters. After the database searches, PRISMA guidelines were followed to perform a partnered, 2-round scoping literature review. Results: The search identified 3201 articles, and 26 articles met criteria and were included in the analysis. The data types used to describe the tools were text/opinion (42.3%), qualitative (23.1%), system architecture (19.2%), quantitative and qualitative (11.5 %), and quantitative (3.8%). The tools' main functions were Resource Allocation (41.7%), Data Collection and Management (33%), Interagency Communications (15.4 %), Beneficiary Communications (11.5%), and Fundraising (7.7%). The platforms used to achieve these goals were Mobile Application (36%), Internet of Things (20%), Website (20%), and Mobile Survey (8%); 92% covered the disaster response phase. Conclusions: Digital tools for planning, situational awareness, client choice, and recovery are needed to support emergency food assistance, but there is a lack of these tools and research on their effectiveness across all disaster phases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalDisaster medicine and public health preparedness
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Keywords:
  • digital applications
  • digital technology
  • disasters
  • food assistance
  • food security

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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