Applying market-oriented techniques to allocate resources where there is no market: how can we get food bank donations to the charities that need them most? Sendhil Mullainathan summarizes a points-based approach.
Markets report such dispersed information in the form of prices. Feeding America, for example, was surprised to see pasta at one point trading for 116 times the price of fresh vegetables. That was revealing data. In hindsight, it made sense: Vegetables spoil rapidly, which is why food companies donated them freely; pasta, with its longer shelf life, was a rarer commodity, as far as donations go.