Tim Smith knew a lot about trucking, but he didn’t know anything about Food Bank of Wyoming when he joined the organization as a driver seven years ago.
A Wisconsin native who moved to Wyoming in 1984, Tim had sold his trucking business and was considering what to do next when he was invited to come check out the trucking operation at Food Bank of Wyoming. Although he wasn’t looking to become a driver, he liked what he saw and joined the team.
“I’ve personally never been in that place [of food insecurity], and I didn’t know anyone in that place. It was all new to me,” he said. “Now I feel it’s a kind of privilege. It’s hard to see and realize all the people who struggle with it. I enjoy being able to get out there to help.”
Tim has driven to literally every corner of Wyoming, logging hundreds of thousands of miles through some of the nation’s most beautiful scenery, but also through the state’s notorious wind and snow. A typical day for him can be long, including a round-trip drive to and from the destination and time onsite supporting Hunger Relief Partners.
Always Ready When Needs Arise
Tim has played an important role in helping the organization grow. “When I first started, we weren’t doing mobile pantries. Partners were receiving deliveries only once a month, and that food didn’t really last long,” he recalled.
When the coal mines closed at Gillette in 2016, the need became especially dire. Tim assisted with coordinating and implementing the response—the first mobile pantry. “We took two truckloads. There were a thousand people in line. We went back the next week with two more truckloads.”
Over time, Food Bank of Wyoming has added trucks and trailers to its fleet, scaled up capacity in its main Evansville warehouse, and provided additional freezers, refrigerators, and other equipment for Partners, making it possible to expand the volume and frequency of food deliveries. Although Tim says he’s “just the truck driver,” he and the other four drivers are making a huge impact being on the road six days a week. “The need has really increased. We’ve been putting out tons,” Tim said—as in 10 million pounds in 2019, increasing to 12 million pounds in 2020.
Yet Tim prefers to give credit to the more than 160 Hunger Relief Partners across the state. “I get so impressed with them because they are all volunteers. Their generosity is amazing,” he said.
Over the years, Tim has developed friendships with many of the Partners, and the volunteers show him their gratitude by praying for him, giving him cards and homemade treats, and making sure he has a cup of hot cider—or a cold bottle of water—waiting for him, depending on what Wyoming’s crazy weather is doing that day.
Never a Dull Moment Out On The Road
Meeting lots of people goes hand-in-hand with being a truck driver, and Tim considers this one of the unique features of the jog, among many others. “As you drive, you run into all kinds of situations, like shoveling people out of ditches,” he recalled. “Once, there was a health emergency at a mobile pantry, and I had to do CPR. Thankfully, he came out of it okay. Last week, a herd of elk came around the bend in the road [near Yellowstone]; I stopped just in time.”
Tim also enjoys helping out a new Partner when he makes their first delivery by answering all of their questions and reassuring them that everything is going to be okay. “I like doing that—you welcome them. And hopefully you leave and you’ve not confused them!”
Until recently, Food Bank of Wyoming was known as the Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies. Tim likes the rebranded name because it “clearly identifies who I am serving: The people of Wyoming,” whose spirit—in the face of real need—he has experienced firsthand while he’s been on the road. “I am thankful for the privilege and opportunity to be a driver for Food Bank of Wyoming,” he said. “The gratefulness of the people is overwhelming.”
If you’re interested in helping your community fight food insecurity, sign up for one of our volunteer opportunities.