Many Bay Area school districts are offering free grab-and-go meals to local children while schools in California remain closed until the end of the school year.
To help parents find the nearest pick-up sites, a group of Stanford University students has developed a text service to help identify nearby meal locations.
Bay Area parents and their children can text a zip code to 855-906-3016 and receive an automated list in English of the nearest sites. Callers who want to receive the list in Spanish can add "2" after the ZIP code.
The text service uses information from a map that the Stanford students created in mid-March that locates the grab-and-go meal sites in 15 counties in the greater Bay Area. The map specifies details such as the days of the week the meals are provided, the number of meals provided at a time and whether the students must be enrolled in that school district or not.
The map also includes contact information for the meal provider so parents can double check before they go to verify whether their children are eligible to receive the meal.
The map is updated every week based on school district websites, social media sites and other available sources. The underlying data for the map is also open to the public.
The volunteers who maintain the map include graduate students in education, epidemiology, communication and electrical engineering, as well as undergraduate students in chemical engineering and symbolic systems/economics. Graduate students Amy DiPerro and Ziad Ali led the effort to build the text service.
The students are also working on expanding the map efforts for other types of resources, including medical and legal aid. They plan to create a combined map that compiles all of the available resources so Bay Area residents can easily search for what they need.
The project is affiliated with Big Local News, a program at Stanford University that collects local data to discover stories with impact.
This map and information about the texting service are being made available for local news organizations to embed on their news sites as a resource for the community.
Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.