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Answering Food Insecurity, One Mile At A Time

food bank truck

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.

“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,” said Tim. “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, a Wisconsin native who moved to Wyoming in 1984, 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. He liked what he saw and joined the team.

Since then, 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, after a round-trip to reach the destination and time onsite supporting Hunger Relief Partners.

Car line at food distribution event in Wyoming

Always Ready When Needs Arise

He has also watched 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 said. When the coal mines closed at Gillette in 2016, the need became especially dire. A mobile pantry was organized and “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 the 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 obviously making a huge impact. They are on the road six days a week. “The need has really increased. We’ve been putting out tons,” he said, as in 10 million pounds in 2019, increasing to 12 million pounds in 2020.

Yet he prefers to give credit to the more than 160 Partners across the state. “I get so impressed with them because they are all volunteers. Their generosity is amazing.”

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 job. There are others. “As you drive, you run into all kinds of situations. Shoveling people out of ditches. Once there was a health emergency at a mobile pantry, and I had to do CPR. Thankfully, he came out of it okay,” he recalled. “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 kinds of questions and reassuring them everything is going to be okay. “I like doing that—you welcome them. And hopefully you leave and you’ve not confused them!”

He has seen real need and the power of Wyoming’s spirit firsthand while he’s been on the road. Now when someone shares a misconception about food insecurity, Tim said, “Let’s just say, I’m not afraid to correct them.”

If you’re interested in helping your community fight food insecurity, sign up for one of our volunteer opportunities.

Tim Smith, Driver for Food Bank of Wyoming

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