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STORM LAKE, Iowa – The small northwest Iowa city of Storm Lake has a low unemployment rate, vibrant downtown and tree-lined neighborhoods, but it's also facing a surge in hunger that's familiar to rural communities across the country.
The community is struggling to respond as thousands of working families and elderly residents seek help feeding themselves or their children. The issue persists even as national poverty rates have declined and food prices are down.
In Storm Lake, residents are helping their neighbors with a large, mostly volunteer effort to hand out free food at a half-dozen pantries, along a city street and in an empty building.
Hermelinda Gonzalez relies on a monthly drive-up pantry to feed her seven children despite her husband's construction job. She says, "I don't know what we'd do without this."