Community Compass finds resources nearby
A digital resource to help people access food resources more easily is now available on the web and in multiple languages.
Community Compass – a virtual platform that connects Indianapolis residents with free meals and groceries, as well as stores supporting SNAP and WIC benefits nearby – is now available online at www.communitycompass.app. People using the website can access information in Arabic, Burmese, Chinese, French, Haitian Creole, Hakha Chin, Karen, Spanish, Swahili and Yoruba.
The Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation provided a grant of $ 550,000 and worked with the City of Indianapolis and Indy Hunger Network to develop the website and its expanded translations.
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The website, which went live on Monday, lists upcoming food giveaways and meal services across town. People can find grocery stores, pantries and other resources near them simply by typing in their address or zip code, filtering the results by the days a location is open and the type of. service it provides.
The resource also helps people determine if they are eligible for federal food aid through the online chatbot “Shelly”.
Food insecurity is pervasive throughout the city. A 2018 SAVI report found that approximately 200,000 Indianapolis residents live in food deserts, with poor access to food and living in low-income areas.
“Knowing where and how to access nutritious food is essential to solving food problems in our community,” Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said in a press release Monday. “No one should be without access to food just because they don’t know what is available to them. This tool makes it easy to connect residents to short and long term solutions to food insecurity.
People can continue to access Community Compass through the free mobile app, which launched last year. It was downloaded more than 2,000 times in March, as food insecurity in Indianapolis increased during the pandemic, according to Level Up Development, the company that developed the app.
The app is only available in Spanish and English and can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play.
People can also send the word “hi” to 317-434-3758 to receive information via SMS.
As of July 6, 16,429 people have used Community Compass, said Kate Howe, executive director of Indy Hunger Network, a nonprofit that helps connect Indianapolis residents to food resources and has helped develop the application. Almost 90% of people have used the mobile app, Howe said, and about 10% have used the texting service.
After the app launched, some users said they didn’t have access to a strong enough Wi-Fi network to download Community Compass, Howe said. The mobile-friendly website allows people to access food resource information on their phones without having to download the app, she said.
Before the app was rolled out, people had to call the city’s Connect4Help 211 service and explain why they needed food assistance. Community Compass provides users with anonymity and convenience to encourage people to seek the help they need, Howe told IndyStar.
In August, the Community Compass platform is expected to expand to counties surrounding Marion County, and in December, the developers hope to disseminate information statewide, Howe said. Also in December, Howe said the app will include information on energy and housing assistance in addition to food resources.