A Donation Story

We've got a great story to tell today about helping others with your own unique set of skills. It's a story that began in February* and will have the ripple effects associated with generosity for a long time to come. Most of all, it's a story of how Wyoming is one small town connected by very long roads (and friendly postal service workers).

This is Mike and his daughter Michelle. They are the owners of Fat Howard's Chili Company, named after Mike's grandfather and Michelle's great-grandfather. After many years of touring the western U.S. to participate in chili cook-offs, they decided to launch a company to sell their award-winning creations. The business includes catering as well as this food truck—you might see it parked at events in southeast Wyoming during the spring, summer, and fall.

a food truck
The Fat Howard's food truck ready to serve up chili and other western comfort food

Back in February, Michelle reached out to Wyoming Hunger Initiative to see if we could use some chili packets to donate to local food pantries somehow. It took about 10 seconds for the team to dream up the "somehow" because what goes better with chili seasoning than beef or game? Wyoming Hunger Initiative just happens to know a thing or two about the beef and game supply chain between Point A and food pantries these days! Ground beef donated to Food from the Farm + Ranch and game donated to Food from the Field was headed to food pantries already, so the ability to pair meat with a great ready-made seasoning packet ready to turn into a nourishing meal was very exciting.

Wyoming Hunger Initiative ground beef
donated beef, processed and ready to distribute to neighbors in need

Mike met up with WHI team member Elizabeth Dillow on a sunny day in early February to load up boxes of chili packets.

After dividing up the donation to food pantries receiving meat, Trista Ostrom headed to the post office to ship boxes to lots of locations in Wyoming.

After a few days, the boxes began showing up to great excitement...

...from the staff and volunteers of the organizations who will see the contents benefit members of their local communities.

Donna Ferguson and Diane Price from Lander Care & Share Food Bank
Sierra Mitchell from Afton Food Pantry

Here's the thing: a bowl of chili made from high-quality, local protein and chili seasoning carefully crafted in Wyoming and shared with others isn't just a meal. It's really comfort served on the dinner table. When Wyoming Hunger Initiative launched, it was with the invitation to all Wyoming residents to join the fight to end hunger by sharing time, generosity, and innovative thinking. We can't thank Mike and Michelle enough for doing just that.

*Technically this story begins some 20 years before in a classroom at East High School in Cheyenne, but for the purposes of this post we're marking February 2021 as the beginning.