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Innovators hack good food access in DC


WASHINGTON DC, November 9, 2018 -- Citizens around the world can join the Climathon movement and take part in a 24-hour hackathon to find solutions to their city’s climate challenges.

Climathon takes place each year in over 100 cities worldwide and brings together entrepreneurs, students, programmers and policy makers to work on new, creative solutions to local climate change challenges.

Originally conceptualised as a hackathon by EIT Climate-KIC, Climathon has since taken off as a global movement, engaging citizens on climate action—and providing cities with continued support on the unique challenges they face.

In Washington, DC, the event takes place from 3pm on November 9th until 3pm on November 10th and will focus on addressing access to healthy, culturally appropriate food for vulnerable populations in the District. It is being organised by the George Washington University, the University of the District of Columbia, DC Food Policy Council in the DC Office of Planning, and the DC Department of Energy and Environment, with support and input from local community partners. The event will be held at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.

[The Challenge]

Each Climathon city identifies its climate challenges and calls on its citizens to come up with innovative solutions.

In Washington, DC, communities most at risk of climate impacts need better ways to get access to fresh and healthy food. Despite the District’s growing economy and efforts to increase healthy food access, more than one in ten residents have difficulty accessing healthy, affordable food. Further, at least one in five children live in households without consistent access to the healthy food they need to grow and thrive.

Disparities in food access and diet-related chronic diseases persist. These differences across resident populations matter—research shows that a healthy diet can alleviate risk for chronic diseases like diabetes, help children learn and behave better in school, and improve overall quality of life outcomes. The DC Climathon is calling all innovators to help develop solutions to local access to fresh, healthy food for vulnerable populations in the District.

The global community has limited time to both curb and prepare for climate change, in order to avoid “intolerable” impacts on human populations. The scientific body IPCC states that the world has until 2030 to drastically reduce pollution that causes global warming.

Even with such improvements, food production systems will face severe limits. The global population is increasing more than 2 billion people by 2050. As drought, flooding, and soil and temperatures affect agriculture production, this will most severely impact vulnerable communities around the planet.

The challenge calls for innovative and feasible DC-based solutions that solve healthy food access challenges in the District and are additional to what local organizations are already doing.

After 24 intense hours of collaboration, excitement and solution-finding, the best idea will be selected by a panel of judges with expertise in social entrepreneurship and food access issues.

[Beyond the hackathon]

Innovation happens when diverse perspectives are brought together—creating both tangible climate solutions for cities and empowered communities.

After the 24 hour event, participants are encouraged to take advantage of a range of additional mentorship resources, including courses in the University of the District of Columbia’s CAUSES program, and the George Washington University New Venture Competition.


Supported by EIT Climate-KIC, an EU climate innovation initiative funded by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, the global movement depends on a rapidly growing number of local hosts and partners such as start-up incubators, universities, associations and local businesses.

In order to ensure that solutions developed at the DC Climathon effectively enhance the efforts of local organizations already working on this issue, local organizations including DC Hunger Solutions, LOCAL GROUP, and LOCAL GROUP provided input on the scope of the challenge.  To ensure that proposed solutions fill gaps and meet real needs on the ground, these partners helped to identify three tracks for hackers to choose from. Those tracks are transportation of healthy food the last mile to underserved consumers, semi-prepped meals, and supporting local DC growers.

[Call to action]

As climate change alters growing seasons and causes extreme weather events, communities that already face challenges in accessing healthy, culturally appropriate food will experience the worst impacts. While no single solution will address this complex challenge, DC Climathon seeks to challenge innovators to contribute positively to efforts to promote access to healthy food for vulnerable populations in the District.

If you are interested in taking part in Climathon in Washington, DC in future years, please reach out to [email protected] to ask about partnerships!


About the EIT Climate-KIC Climathon

Climathon is a global movement dedicated to solving city climate challenges.

Originally conceptualised as a 24-hour hackathon by EIT Climate-KIC, Climathon has since taken off as a global movement, engaging citizens on climate action—and providing cities with continued support on the unique challenges they face.

Now in its fourth year of operation, Climathon has grown tremendously, encouraging more cities and innovators across the globe to drive climate action. Climathon has grown from 19 cities in its first year, to 104 in 2017.

The 2018 edition of the 24-hour climate change hackathon takes place simultaneously in major cities around the world on 26 October and is set to be the biggest event of its kind in history.

Visit for an overview of partner organisations and the climate change challenges per city.

Follow the Climathon on 26 October on social media via the #Climathon hashtag, and the Climathon channels and

About EIT Climate-KIC

EIT Climate-KIC is a European knowledge and innovation community, working to accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon economy. Supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), we identify and support innovation that helps society mitigate and adapt to climate change. We believe that a decarbonised, sustainable economy is not only necessary to prevent catastrophic climate change, but presents a wealth of opportunities for business and society.

For more information, please visit

About the GW Office of Sustainability

GW’s Office of Sustainability provides a strategic home for sustainability initiatives at the George Washington University that are implemented in partnership with stakeholders across the organization. George Washington University seeks to engage the world by exploring the important issues of our time including policy and governance for sustainability with a vision to create resource systems that are healthy and thriving for all. Through efforts underway in operations, teaching, research, and outreach, the university is committed to being a model of sustainability.


Kimberly Williams, Stakeholder Engagement Associate

Office of Sustainability

George Washington University

[email protected] 202-288-3731

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