More Kern County residents than ever are using 211 resources, the area's information call line. With more than 50,000 calls last year, the majority are questions about food assistance. On Monday, the service announced it's expanding its reach to help more people, online.
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, operators from Community Action Partnership of Kern, take calls from the public about where to go for services.
"They might want to use a Yellow Pages resource and don't know how to get to these resources and are trying to find out which one is best suited to them and which one is in their zip code," said Deborah Steagall, 211 Kern County Program Manager.
Most of the calls are from people in need of food.
"We see an increase every day with food calls of Kern County residents in need of food assistance," said Ian Anderson, Program Manager for the Community Action Partnership of Kern Food Bank.
Veteran Alfonso Adolph Chavez is one of those in need. "It's kind of hard because you shuffle around your money, but you just can't make it," said Chavez.
Chavez used up the last of his gas money to get to the food bank on Monday. But, he admits while he was on his way there he wasn't sure he was headed to the right place. He said 211 would have helped.
"It would have saved me a lot because I have limited gas, limited everything," said Chavez.
With a budget of $442,000, the service is funded through grants from the Kern County Department of Public Health, CalFresh, a Community Services Block Grant, the United Way of Kern County, the County of Kern, and First 5 Kern, a budget that's helping thousands here at home.
"I'm so grateful for the food and the help that the county gives to its veterans," said Chavez.
Residents can now access the information they need online. On this National 211 day, 2-1-1 Kern County unveiled a website. it's: www.capk.org/211kern.