A woman reaches into a basket of raw carrots. She has a handful of them.
A Lincoln resident grabs a handful of carrots from the Lincoln Fresh truck on Thursday, Sep. 15. The Lincoln Fresh truck was open from 2:30-4 p.m. outside the Malone Community Center.

The month of September brings light to an issue that is often forgotten.

The Food Bank of Lincoln is doing free food distributions across Southeast Nebraska and raising awareness for Hunger Action Month.

The food bank currently serves Lincoln-area schools and 28 rural communities.

Alynn Sampson, the vice president of operations and impact for the Food Bank of Lincoln, said people overlook food insecurity because they assume it’s not affecting anyone they know.

“We do a really great job of hiding pockets of poverty or hiding food insecurity. But in reality, we know these are our neighbors,” Sampson said. “These are folks that look just like you and me. I think it’s just bringing that awareness that: the hungry? It is us.”

Sampson said the Food Bank of Lincoln goes to smaller towns in Nebraska that may not have as many resources for those who are facing hunger.

“I think people think a rural community may not have as much food insecurity as a bigger city,” Sampson said. “It’s this idea that people are able to provide for their own community or provide for themselves. We know that’s simply not true.”

The Food Bank of Lincoln serves 16 counties. They have nearly 50,000 residents who need support in the area.

Almost every weekday in September, they have hosted drive-through distributions in towns with as little population as 1,500 people.

Debra Aegerter, Blue Valley Community Action coordinator in Seward and Butler Counties, said this is a way for them to bring more attention to the reality of how many people are food insecure in rural areas.

“Especially with the costs of food right now, it helps out tremendously,” Aegerter said. “A lot of other rural areas do not have the food resources so the food bank is very, very important.”

Justin Clarke, a driver for the food bank, said providing these services takes a little bit of stress off of people who are struggling financially.

It can allow them to use money for memories instead of groceries.

“Taking your children out for ice cream and doing something like that, gas so you can get to and from a job. There’s just so many different little variables,” Clarke said. “Just because you don’t have this doesn’t mean you can’t go enjoy a little fun day and play some mini golf or go to the lake. That gives you an opportunity to have some money to go and do that.”

Sampson said September is a great time to get educated, but the support and work to feed members of the community must continue all year.

“It normalizes that idea that food insecurity can happen to anyone,” Sampson said. “It may be your family members, it could be your friends. I think the important thing is that it’s a lot closer to us than we think.”

The Food Bank of Lincoln posts weekly food distribution information on their website and social media accounts.

To donate to the food bank or volunteer, visit their website.

Senior, Broadcast-News major