Info Line is making it easier for Summit County residents to find and access basic needs assistance by adding texting capability to its 2-1-1 information service. 2-1-1 OnDemand allows people to receive referrals for food and utility assistance via text so they don’t have to use valuable phone minutes. The service also helps free up Info Line’s 2-1-1 staff so they can spend time answering phone calls that are more in-depth.
“In 2016, Info Line 2-1-1 received nearly 40,000 requests for food and utility assistance by phone,” said Richard Stahl, CEO/executive director at Info Line. “But many lower-income Americans have limited phone minutes and unlimited texting. This information combined with preferences among people 55 and under for texting, led us to explore ways to use texting within a non-profit setting.”
How it works
Summit County residents may text “Info Line” to 898211 if they need food or utility assistance. They will then be prompted to text their zip code, the service they want, and, if seeking food, the day of the week they want to go to a food pantry. The service pulls from Info Line’s live 2-1-1 database (www.211summit.org) and lists resources that are currently available.
“Many people don’t realize how challenging it is to know what organizations are open and available on the day they need assistance,” said Tanya Kahl, vice president of strategy and development at Info Line. “We are continuously updating our resource database to make sure we have the most accurate information available.”
A majority of funding for the project came from an anonymous area foundation. Additional funding came from United Way of Summit County.
Over the coming year, Info Line plans to expand text messaging to its other programs, including the Homeless Hotline, MedAssist, Child Care Connection and Lifeline.
With the addition of 2-1-1 OnDemand, Info Line now offers three ways to find local resources in Summit County:
· Dial 2-1-1 or (330) 376-6660 to speak with a highly trained staff member or volunteer who will provide individualized assistance 24 hours a day/7 days a week.
· Text “Info Line” to 898211 for help with food or utilities.
· Search online at http://211summit.org.
Individuals living outside of Summit County can visit www.211.org to find out more about their local 2-1-1.
Info Line helps tens of thousands of northeast Ohio residents annually secure services essential for living safe, healthy and successful lives. We coordinate access among agencies and act as a central clearinghouse to get people the help they need. Our services include 2-1-1 Information and Referral, Child Care Connection, Housing Services, Lifeline and MedAssist.