Tag: navigation center

Free Summer Meals for Kids

Summer vacation is a time that most children look forward to, but summer can also mean something different for the children who rely on school in order to receive regular meals. Because of this, the summer break can be detrimental to low-income children. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Texas is one of the top thirteen states to receive intensive technical assistance to expand the reach of summer meal programs. This is because Texas is currently experiencing high levels of rural/urban food insecurity and reduced program participation. Over 23 million children rely on free and reduced-price meals provided by National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs throughout the school year. However, only a small portion–3.8 million–participates in the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program. By creating the Summer Food Service Program, the USDA hopes to minimize this gap in order to ensure that children are receiving the meals they need. Fortunately, there are various locations in the Austin community where eligible children and teens ages 18 and below can find facilities that can provide them with free meals while school is out of session. The Summer Meal Site Finder is a mapping tool provided by the USDA that shows local sites that provide meals through the Summer Food Service Program. Distance, days of operation, times and the types of meals being served are some of the details provided by the finder tool. Every day parents, teachers and educational staff members worry for the children that do not have […]

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2-1-1 Call Data Shows Community Needs and Trends for Greater Austin

Happy February 11th, or as we like to say at United Way for Greater Austin, “Happy 2-1-1 Day!” Each year, 2-1-1 resource centers around the country celebrate this day and aim to raise awareness about the importance of the service. Since 1996, our Navigation Center has served the Greater Austin community as an access point for health and human services referrals. We are able to quickly and privately connect those in need of assistance to nonprofit and government resources, as well as track the needs and trends of the community as a whole with each call. The UWATX Navigation Center celebrates 2-1-1 Day by releasing an annual “Community Needs and Trends Report,” a compilation of data reflecting the scope of needs within our community throughout the year. View the complete report for 2014 here. The most recent data showcases the suburbanization of poverty in our region. While 2-1-1 call volume stabilized in Central and East Austin, we saw a significant increase in call volume from outlying areas, including Pflugerville, Manor, San Marcos and portions of Bastrop County. We aren’t the only ones noticing this trend. According to the Brookings Institute, “There has been a 143% increase in suburban poverty in the Austin metro area over the last decade.” Of the 327,935 calls answered in 2014, 79% of callers were female. We know that single parent-headed households are more likely to live in poverty than dual income households. The majority of callers were between 20 to 50-years-old, indicating that it is the working […]

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UT Austin Students Win $100,000 to Build and Launch 2-1-1 App

Need help finding access to temporary housing, food banks or health services? You can always call 2-1-1 at anytime–but soon there will also be an app for that. A team of University of Texas at Austin students spent last fall developing a smartphone app called “CallScout,” designed to help Austin residents have easier access to social services information. VP of UWATX’s 2-1-1 Navigation Center, Kay Garza, said this app is an important step to bringing information to more low-income individuals because they are more likely to have phone internet access than home internet access. The project took these 12 students to New York in January, where they competed against student teams from other schools, such as Stanford and UC Berkeley, for the grand $100,000 Watson University Competition prize—and won! The app uses Watson technology developed by IBM. Watson is a supercomputer that can quickly sift through large amounts of information to answer complex questions, keeping “in mind” natural speech nuances. CallScout allows users to ask Watson a complete question, i.e. “Where can I find food for my family?” The app will then list nearest food pantries based on the user’s location, along with contact information, hours of service and user reviews. It also allows users to create their own review of the service received, so others using the app may see useful information when choosing a service to best fit their needs. The UT Austin students created a video showing exactly how the CallScout app will function. The Navigation Center […]

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