Springfield-based humanitarian relief organization Convoy of Hope is known for its large-scale operations. For example, it sent out 60 tractor trailers of mostly food and paper products across the United States last week alone in response to the coronavirus pandemic. But the charity is also remembering rural towns closer to home, too.
Carl Long is a pastor and the mayor of Humansville, Missouri, in Polk County.
The only grocery store in town closed down there last fall, he says. And every single child in the school district gets free breakfasts and lunches through the school.
So when the school closed because of the pandemic, that left 360 students in need of meals—and only a Dollar General as a source for supplies. Long says that's when he got very concerned.
“As soon as I heard that the school was going to close, I knew immediately that there were going to be a lot of hungry kids and just had to figure out some way to make a difference,” Long said.
His church had worked with Convoy of Hope's Rural Compassion Initiative in the past. So in mid-March, Long called to see if Convoy could help this small town of about 1,000 people again. Before long, he was looking at twelve pallets stocked with food and supplies, which Convoy of Hope had delivered to Humansville.
“There were at times, you know, 20 or 30 cars in line. And we’d let some in and more cars would, you know, would be in line. So, we just kept going until it was all done, but we served over 70 families in about an hour. So, I felt like it went real well,” Long said.
Humansville Assembly of God, where Long is a pastor, also sent food and cleaning supplies to two local nursing homes.
Jeff Nene, a spokesman for Convoy of Hope, said one of the things that makes this response unique is the geographical spread and sheer volume of need right now.
“We’ve learned through the years that churches are a great distribution point in their communities and their cities because they know the area, they know the people. They know the hard hit areas, the low income areas, things like that,” Nene said.
Convoy of Hope has pledged to serve 10 million meals in response to the coronavirus.