A tool that has helped thousands connect with food in Marion County is expanding statewide.
The Community Compass app launched just before the pandemic hit, and has proven to be a useful tool for connecting people with free groceries, meals and food assistance programs close to home.
The app was developed by the Indy Hunger Network, IHN, and is now available to communities across Indiana. Executive Director Kate Howe said the app has been helpful as need has increased.
“For people who were newly facing food insecurity,” Howe said, “we think it was a really helpful tool to guide those folks in an easy way through the privacy of their own homes, on their own phones, to food assistance nearby.”
More than 38,000 people have used the app since its launch. More food access for more Hoosiers is the goal.
“Increasing access through expanding the geographic reach of Community Compass but then also making it available in more languages,” Howe said.
The information is currently available in 11 languages.
The tool also provides a quick questionnaire to assess eligibility for SNAP and WIC benefits and locate places that accept those programs. Research shows that people with SNAP benefits are able to eat healthier.
The expansion was made possible by a $550,000 grant from the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation; the Indiana Department of Health also partnered on the effort. IHN plans to continue to add groups from communities around Indiana.
Demand for food significantly increases during the winter months, due to increased utility bills, transportation issues, and seasonal employment.