“Lexington, Neb., is just one of the many rural communities that has long dealt with food insecurity, but the global pandemic both intensified need in the town of 11,000 residents and presented new challenges in getting people food.
The nationwide hunger rate among small towns was 12.7% in 2018 compared to 10.8% in urban areas. And according to the national nonprofit Feeding America, 87% of U.S counties with the highest rates of food insecurity are rural.
It was no surprise to local nonprofits that COVID-19’s arrival in town — and its closures of local schools and businesses — would trigger a sharp spike in hunger. Nearly 16% of residents live below the poverty line.
Responding to the crisis presented its own series of logistical wildcards, but you wouldn’t know it by stopping at the town’s weekly USDA Farmers to Families Food Box distribution.
Since starting in June, the event has become a well-oiled machine. Each Thursday, local police cordon off several blocks near the edge of town, where roughly 700 cars will line up on their way to a white tent in the parking lot of St. Ann’s Parish.”