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Hunger in Wyoming is a Problem that can be Solved. Together.

Updated: 6 days ago

Wyoming Hunger Initiative was launched in 2019 with two tenants in mind: one, to never reinvent the wheel and two, to be in all twenty-three Wyoming counties. There are grassroots efforts in every Wyoming county dedicated to reducing hunger and combating food insecurity. Instead, Wyoming Hunger Initiative aims to increase awareness and support for the work of local anti-hunger organizations statewide.

Through the relationships that have been developed across the state specific to food insecurity, Wyoming Hunger Initiative has identified partners in every community. Thanks to a grant from the Hughes Charitable Foundation, Wyoming Hunger Initiative was able to host its fourth Regional Summit in central Wyoming last week to bring folks together who are working in this space.

The result? A whole lot of networking, sharing of resources, and collaboration that will lead central Wyoming forward together while also producing realistic action items that are already underway.

The event kicked off with a volunteer recognition celebration where anti-hunger organizations in central Wyoming nominated a volunteer from their organization to be recognized. Without the countless volunteers across the county, this work wouldn't be possible.

The following volunteers were recognized at this event:

  • All Volunteers, Carbon County Senior Services, Inc.

  • All Volunteers, Society of St. Vincent de Paul

  • Maggie Appleby, Good Samaritan Community Meal

  • Mary Ellen Christensen, Good Portions Mobile Soup Kitchen

  • Mary Commings, The Friday Back Pack Program

  • Sonja Fairfield, Foundations for Nations

  • Lisa Ansell Frazier, Buffalo Youth Nation Project

  • Zendaya Haynes (6 YEARS OLD!!), Leadership Fremont County

  • Melanie Hutchison, Trona Valley Credit Union Foundation

  • Jerry Lawson, Wyoming Food Bank Mobile Pantry

  • Donna Lukens & Family, Pushroot Community Garden

  • Monique Myers, Lander Methodist Food Pantry

  • Hazel Schaefer, Shoshoni Senior Center

  • Roger and Wanda Snell, Saratoga Food Pantry

  • Owen Tucker, Lander Care & Share Food Bank

  • Heather Ward, Sinclair Baptist Community Care Team

  • Dean White, Food Bank of Sweetwater County

  • Laney White, Wyoming Food Bank Mobile Pantry

  • Jeannette Woodward, First Stop Help Center

In addition to our volunteers, we have a wonderful network of folks who support Wyoming Hunger Initiative throughout the year. Beef for Backpacks launched in 2023 to support weekend food bag programs with so many people coming together to make the program possible. A key element of the program is the donation of beef and thus we honored the beef donors from the southeast region during the dinner as well. The following donors were recognized for their contribution to Beef for Backpacks:

  • Rocky Mountain Agronomy Center, LLC

  • Fluid Pro

  • Wind River Oilfield Services

  • Riverton Tire & Oil

  • Gail Peterson

  • Bobby Lane

  • Ryan Hedges

We even took the opportunity to honor Riverton Packing, one of our Fremont county Food from the Field processors. As we know, it takes everyone to be on board to fight food insecurity in Wyoming.

The last recognition component of the evening highlighted the partnership that Wyoming Hunger Initiative has with the Wyoming Honor Farm. Back in 2021, the Wyoming Honor Farm was asked to put in a garden to reduce food costs associated with the kitchen budget in Riverton. What started as an attempt to reduce the budget resulted in almost $15,000 being saved annually from the Department of Corrections’ budget. That first summer, over 3,000 pounds of squash, corn, and zucchini was donated to local organizations fighting food insecurity in Riverton and Lander as a result of the excess grown in the gardens that summer. In 2022, the Wyoming Honor Farm was back with over 11,000 pounds that reached agencies as far as Saratoga, Cheyenne, Pinedale, Jackson, and Thermopolis.

The next day we got down to business by taking a hard look at what we can do to improve and expand resources for anti-hunger organizations in southeast Wyoming. Together with twenty-nine different agencies, we identified challenges, brainstormed solutions, and developed a list of realistic action items.

The following anti-hunger organizations were involved with the fourth Wyoming Hunger Initiative Regional Summit in central Wyoming.

  • Buffalo Youth Nation Project

  • Carbon County School District #1

  • Carbon County Senior Services, Inc.

  • Cent$ible Nutrition Program

  • First Stop Help Center

  • Food Bank of Sweetwater County

  • Food Bank of Wyoming

  • Foundations for Nations

  • God's Pantry

  • Good Portions Mobile Soup Kitchen

  • Good Samaritan Community Meal

  • Lander Care & Share Food Bank

  • Lander Senior Citizens, Inc.

  • Lander United Methodist Church

  • LOR Foundation

  • Pushroot Community Garden

  • Riverton Packing

  • Riverton Senior Citizens Center

  • Saratoga Food Pantry

  • Shoshoni Senior Center

  • Sinclair Baptist Community Care Team

  • Society of St. Vincent de Paul

  • St. Thomas Episcopal Church

  • The Friday Back Pack Program

  • The Soldier's House

  • Trona Valley Federal Credit Union Foundation, Inc.

  • Wind River Food Sovereignty Project

  • Wyoming Department of Education

  • Wyoming Honor Farm

Donna Lukens of Lander was joined by her 9 grandchildren as she was honored for her volunteerism with Pushroot Community Garden. Donna and her grandchildren have been an integral part of the Wyoming Hunger Initiative beds at the garden where they grow produce for the local food pantry.

It is safe to say that this group is "all in" when it comes to fighting food insecurity in Wyoming. We look forward to the continued collaboration and the work that will take place in the coming year thanks to the passion and commitment of these organizations.

Lastly, Wyoming Hunger Initiative team members and regional directors traveled to be part of this event. The passion that you see here is what drives the work that Wyoming Hunger Initiative has done and continues to do. Thank you for joining us!

Photo credit: Kristy Cardinal Photography


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