For The New York Times, Fuller Project Global Editor Sophia Jones profiled Ingrid Brown, one of 3.5 million truck drivers — 200,000 of whom are women — working to keep the U.S. well-stocked and well-fed during the pandemic. Brown, a 58-year-old outspoken trucking advocate, cancer survivor and grandmother of six, was among the essential workers who make up the backbone of a hugely important, yet troubled, industry. Nearly all of America’s produce, goods and equipment are transported by truck.
In the early months of the pandemic, Brown was driving largely without protective equipment. She couldn’t easily find masks or disinfectant supplies to wipe down her truck. While some large trucking companies provided supplies to their personnel, many truckers were left to protect themselves. On the road, meals and supplies were more difficult to come by. Many restaurants were closed. Truck stops were running out of certain goods, and truckers couldn’t easily pull into parking lots — like at a Target, or a Walmart — to buy essentials if there wasn’t a designated truck parking space. Even if they could, Brown says, coveted items — like Clorox wipes — were mostly out of stock.
The profile generated response from readers and manufacturing companies who wanted to help. When readers reached out, Jones connected them with the nonprofit Women in Trucking, which helped coordinate donations of masks and hand sanitizer across dozens of states.