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These are the Faces of Food Insecurity Across Wyoming

Trudy, Nicky (8yo girl), and Marshall (5yo boy), in their car at a mobile pantry in Wyoming

A few things bind us all together as humans, and the need for food is one of them. No matter one’s age, background, address, race, gender, or societal status: We all need to eat.

Across Wyoming, one in seven of our neighbors currently experience food insecurity. Even more alarming is that one in five kids in Wyoming are food insecure. All of us are just a job loss, health crisis, or uncontrollable circumstance away from not having enough to eat on a regular basis, which is why Food Bank of Wyoming strives to reach every single community member in our state in need of food. No matter where they live or what their life currently looks like, we will be there for them with the nourishment they need — that all of us need.

Here are a few of the neighbors we’ve had the honor of meeting recently across the state. They represent a small fraction of the more than 83,700 people in Wyoming — over 14% of the total population — who are food insecure. With your generous support through monetary donations or volunteering, we can ensure no one in Wyoming goes without food.

Vern, a volunteer who picks up food for a neighbor.

Meet Vern

Vern is 80 years old and, every month, goes to pick up food for a neighbor at the Food Bank of Wyoming mobile pantry closest to the assisted living community he now calls home.

“There’s a lady raising four kids who needs some help. The Food Bank is a fabulous program. It helps a lot of people that really need help. It really does. And, you know, I know that for a fact. I see it,” Vern shared.

He gets some food for himself, too, but shared, “I’m 80 years old, I don’t eat much. A little jerky now and then.”

Vern grew up in Wyoming on Mule Shoe Ranch and was the first male child in his family to graduate from high school. After high school he served as a parachute rigger in the U.S. Navy. He is passionate about ranching and horses, and loved participating in the rodeo throughout his childhood and young-adult life. “There’s nothing better than getting on a horse that really bucks, and ride him and get off and pet him on the neck,” he reminisced.

Vern is also a licensed therapeutic horse instructor, working with kids with disabilities. His other hobbies include jewelry making; the day we met him, he was wearing a necklace, belt buckle, and two bracelets he’d crafted.

Vern’s motto is: “Life’s fun, you just gotta let it be.”

Kandi, a neighbor, stands between her car and a cart with a box of food.

Meet Kandi

Kandi works full-time on the night shift at a gas station on the outskirts of the town she lives in. She makes stainless steel tumblers on the side to supplement her income, but business is unpredictable and she needs to get food from her local Food Bank of Wyoming Hunger Relief Partner to help make ends meet.

“I get a little bit of meat. Some cans of vegetables, maybe a couple of cans of soup. Bread. Things that help just kind of keep your pantry full, and right now my pantry says it’s empty,” Kandi said. “And right now I can’t afford [food] with all the dang bills climbing up: rent, utilities, dog food, the gas in the car, plus the maintenance for the car to go to and from work. It all adds up, quickly. I’m trying to do whatever I can. Whatever I can, that’s what I try to do.”

“I started coming when I still had my kiddos. I wanted to make sure they had a good Christmas and a good Thanksgiving and so I’d get help,” Kandi continued. “But you know, this place has always helped. It’s been an awesome thing for me. I am 56 and just trying to supplement my life.”

Fred inside their vehicle at a mobile pantry in Wyoming

Meet Fred

Fred was born and raised in Pinedale and has lived there all 72 years of his life.

“I worked heavy equipment construction, all kinds. Now I’m retired. Divorced. I live by myself, except for my two dogs and three cats. And yeah, just trying to survive,” Fred shared. He was the first in line at the local mobile pantry the day we met him.

“Groceries are very expensive. Any extra help I can get is always a bonus. I can eat about anything you put on a plate in front of me,” he said.

Neighbors posing inside a pantry kitchen

Meet Dasja and Brie

Dasja and her mother, Sabrina (Brie), are originally from California and currently live near one another in Rawlins. They do everything together, including getting food at WyoHelp’s food pantry in town. Dasja has Chron’s disease, is on disability, and is a stay-at-home mom for her daughter. She shared that the food they get from the food pantry really helps.

“My daughter is really picky. Sometimes I don’t know what to get. Kids are really so indecisive,” Dasja said. “I’m always trying to cook different meals for her, so this really helps out.”

“This stuff [at the food pantry] really helps because this is the kind of things I need for my daughter. The meat is good because you can read the [recipes and instructions they include] and portion it out and freeze it to use at different times. They have a lot of chicken, turkey, and fish, which is good because those are all expensive at the store.”

Trudy, Nicky (8yo girl), and Marshall (5yo boy), in their car at a mobile pantry in Wyoming

Meet Rachael, Trudy, Nicky, and Marshall

Rachael works as the office manager for a plumbing company in Jackson and lives with her mom, Trudy, and two kids, Nicky and Marshall. She started using one of Food Bank of Wyoming’s mobile pantries when she got divorced.

“Only having one income as a single mom with two kids was rough,” Rachael shared. “The first of the month, all your bills come out. So then you’re like, okay, now what? But, you know, with this at least we have food.”

Shirleena and her two-year-old black Labrador, Maddy, in their car at a mobile food pantry in WY

Meet Shirleena

Shirleena and her husband have lived in Pinedale for 15 years. Her husband works in general labor, but a few years ago fell off of a roof and broke his back, leaving him with injuries that inhibit him from working long days or as hard of jobs. Shirleena used to work three part-time jobs, but recently retired. She shared how helpful the food they get from Food Bank of Wyoming is to her and her husband.

“Oh my gosh, we appreciate the Food Bank so much. We couldn’t make it without you. It just helps so tremendously,” she said. “I have never, ever, seen so many people hurting so bad. I’ve never seen the line this long. It is hard, and food prices are getting outrageous. It’s just insane. And the wages aren’t going up, right? It just makes it hard.”

“This mobile pantry is really part of the community,” she continued. “ Thank you so much.”

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