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Community Action Commission expands 2-1-1 helpline, modifies meal service in response to pandemic

Community Action Commission expands 2-1-1 helpline, modifies meal service in response to pandemic

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A local senior enjoys a hot meal at one of the 13 local community centers served by the Community Action Commission's senior nutrition program. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the commission has modified its program while continuing meal service. 

The Community Action Commission of Santa Barbara County is offering help in response to the coronavirus outbreak on two fronts: expanding the 2-1-1 helpline and continuing a modified senior meal program. 

2-1-1 Santa Barbara County 

The Community Action Commission is adding staff and expanding ways residents can access assistance through 2-1-1 Santa Barbara County, the centralized information and referral system that connects people to health and human services.

The helpline is multilingual, confidential and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at no cost to the caller.

Program staff work directly with the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency ManagementSanta Barbara County Public Health and other local organizations to gather and update local resources and contact information used by accredited call center specialists in their response to calls and texts from the public. 

The commission has expanded functions of the helpline in response to the coronavirus outbreak, encouraging residents to access information and resources in the following ways: 

            • Dial 211 with inquiries (if calling from 805 area code)

            • Dial 800-400-1572 (if calling from an area code other than 805)

            • Text ZIP code to 898-211 to connect with a live call specialist

            • Visit www.211sbco.org

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Pardo

“We want the public to know about and make use of this valuable community service, but we also want them to know that in a life-threatening emergency, always dial 911,” said Elisa Pardo, program manager for 2-1-1 Santa Barbara County.

Call centers across country have been heavily impacted by call volume during the past few weeks, and callers should expect some delays and extended hold times. 

“We are adding staff to our 2-1-1 call center as quickly as we can,” Pardo said. 

Senior Nutrition Program

The Community Action Commission's senior nutrition program normally provides hot meals at 13 community centers from Guadalupe to Goleta with delivery service available for homebound seniors.  

Because of the pandemic, the commission has been forced to modify the program to accommodate social distancing and shelter-at-home orders.

“We continue to serve our consumers at most of the meal sites — a few centers have closed — offering healthy bag lunches to-go, and also giving all seniors the choice of receiving meals at home,” said Marc Sabin, director of senior services.

In the last week, there has been an estimated 10% increase in inquiries, new enrollees and conversions to home delivery.

“We anticipate even sharper increases in senior meal participation as this crisis continues,” Sabin said.

CEO Patricia Keelean said in the face of the coronavirus crisis, the commission has continued to carry out its mission of serving the community. 

“Our staff is working tirelessly to continue to deliver services, pivoting to develop new logistics as this pandemic unfolds,” she said. 

In the North County, residents can call the senior nutrition hotline at 805-925-3010 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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