Partnerships are the lifeblood of Wyoming Hunger Initiative, and we know how crucial they are in the fight against food insecurity in Wyoming! Today we're excited to introduce you to Dan's Meat Processing in Evansville, Wyoming—one of our two charter partner processors for Food from the Field. Their willingness to help navigate the first year of the program is one of the primary reasons Food from the Field was able to experience so much growth and success through its first two seasons, and why it will continue to thrive in the future.
Dan's Meat Processing is owned by Dan and Chris Clark. When they opened for business in 1973, they couldn't have foreseen the growth, success, and accolades their business would receive when they opened their small custom (and part-time!) plant doing mostly seasonal wild game and custom processing for area ranchers. Since that time, they've moved from part-time to full-time, completed numerous additions, enhancements, and renovations, added equipment and innovative ways to serve their community, and created a workplace in which seasonal employees want to return to year after year after year.
They were honored as Wyoming's Outstanding State-Inspected Plant in 1996, an award voted on by Wyoming Department of Agriculture employees—and an award they hold as one of their greatest accomplishments to date. The facility received a Blue Ribbon Award for quality, safe food handling in January 2000 and have maintained that high level of quality ever since. Another award called The Sharpest Cleaver, presented at the Hands Across the Rockies Convention in 2007 honoring their outstanding dedication and service to the meat industry, is also proudly displayed. So is their Food from the Field plaque, presented by First Lady Jennie Gordon for their participation in combating food insecurity in Wyoming. Front and center in their shop right now is the flyer advertising the fundraiser the Clarks are organizing to benefit three Casper high school students burned in a devastating flash fire in March 2022.
It's no surprise that Dan and Chris have a heart for serving their community. They've been doing it for nearly 50 years.
Their operation is an efficient one, developed over decades of learning best practices for handling a high volume of both domestic animals and game. They process 1500-2000 head in a typical hunting season, often with a wait list for those able to hold their animal until it can be received for processing, usually overnight.
Because the facility has multiple coolers and stringent handling protocols, Dan's is able to manage both domestic and wild game through much of the hunting season; this alleviates some of the pressure for domestic processing which continues to be a challenge across the state. Preemptive maintenance has always been a priority, which keeps the equipment ticking along in tip-top shape, limiting possible time lost.
Dan's Meat Processing worked to process and distribute 3,840 lbs of donated game brought to their shop (103.5 animals!) from Wyoming hunters to food pantries and anti-hunger agencies in the first two years of the program. Meat is notoriously expensive to procure for pantries, so a local solution to hunger makes an enormous impact on their ability to provide healthy protein for their patrons.
Wyoming Hunger Initiative is committed to sustainable solutions to hunger, and we know that it takes more than just an idea to achieve lasting change. Dan's Meat Processing—and all of our partner processors—are proof that it can be done, and done well. For that we are so grateful.
Together, we can end hunger in Wyoming.