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Reaching Families Through 211

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Have you reached out to your local 211 provider?

When it comes to summer meals, 211 can be an invaluable partner. 211 is a free telephone and Web referral service–available in as many as 150 languages–that links families to local resources. According to 211 California, in 2009, more that 1.6 million Californians used 211 to local services including rent and mortgage assistance, food and shelter, healthcare, job training, transportation, childcare, and senior care. The San Diego County Summer Lunch Task Force has collaborated with 211 San Diego to expand its referral options by helping families also find summer meal sites.

To this end, 211 San Diego created a unique web page, available in English and Spanish, dedicated to summer meals. The easy-to-use interface allows families to search by zip code to find sites located closest to them. The search function also includes meals served, hour of operation, and any activities offered. This web page is the first comprehensive and interactive list of all San Diego County summer meals sites. 211 San Diego will also continue to enhance the site by adding regional maps. Families can also call 211 and speak to one of 211 San Diego’s highly trained specialists who can direct them to summer meal sites and other community services.

211 San Diego’s Community Development Officer, Gabriel Kendall, finds that sometimes the family is dealing with other issues (e.g., ran out of SNAP benefits, electricity turned off) that may have led to needing food assistance. The partnership between 211 San Diego and the Summer Lunch Task Force demonstrate how community partners can effectively collaborate–and capitalize on the assets of each–to create a summer safety net for families in need. Find out if 211 is in your county here.

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