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COVID-19 hits Texas farmers differently

The Texas Center for Local Food weighs in.

ELGIN, Texas — Sue Beckwith and her band of dedicated volunteers are getting ready for pick up, setting up tents, putting out sanitizers and writing "stop" in chalk on the street to direct traffic.

It's Wednesday and that means people will be lining up on East Second Street in downtown Elgin to pick up their veggies in a box. The cardboard boxes are filled with fresh vegetables and fruit picked by South and Central Texas farmers. What's inside the box is different every week.

For $32, the Texas Center for Local Food has been selling to area customers for the past month. Beckwith said the money goes directly to family farms. 

Right now, many of those families are hurting after the coronavirus hit, while others are doing OK for now.

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"So the direct-market farmers are doing alright right now, but they are going to see a lag. The wholesale farmers, the ones selling to restaurants, hospitals and schools, saw their orders plummet," Beckwith said.

Jarred Maxwell drove from Austin to buy a box.

"Now more than ever it's demonstrating in that having a local supply chain and supporting our neighbors is more important than ever," he said.

But Beckwith said not everyone gets it. She hopes to make everyone understand why farmers sometimes need to dump out food.

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"Farmers are dumping food, we see it on the news, because we have a distribution problem. So, in their area, they don't have a way to get rid of that food right away. Why, as a business, should they invest further money and packing it when no one is going to buy it before it goes bad," Beckwith said.

Beckwith also said the solution to the distribution problem is buying from local farmers, shortening the time you get veggies from the land to your table.

To help the nonprofit, visit its website.

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