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Making Nutritious Food Accessible to All: Moorcroft Interfaith Community

food bank volunteers loading a van with food
A volunteer at the Moorcroft Interfaith Community mobile pantry loads boxes into the car of a client. On its busiest day, the pantry served over 350 families. // Photo by Caitlyn Barnett

When Monte Reichenberg first learned that the town of Moorcroft, Wyoming, didn’t have an emergency plan in place to access and distribute food should there be a natural disaster or other such event, he felt called to address the issue, just as seven years earlier he’d been called to move to Moorcroft to pastor First Presbyterian Church.

His wife, who is also a pastor, had taken a position with a church in Gillette, and Monte had originally planned to stay in Illinois and continue pastoring his church there. That plan quickly changed.

“I was told by the interim pastor at First Presbyterian that I’d be a good fit,” said Monte while helping at Moorcroft’s monthly mobile food pantry, which he organizes. “I put in my application and was accepted, and I love it. I love the rural areas. I lived in a rural area in Illinois, but there were still more people per square foot than there were animals. Here, I like it the other way around.”

Located in the northeastern corner of the state, about 30 minutes south of Devil’s Tower, Moorcroft is home to 1,122 people, eight churches, one grocery store, and two public schools: one serving grades K-8 and a high school. It is also where upwards of 2,000 families a month come from neighboring counties and as far away as Montana and South Dakota to get food from Moorcroft Interfaith Community’s three-times-a-month food pantries.

food bank volunteers loading a pickup truck with boxes
Marcus drives over an hour every month to pick up food for his family and several other people in his community. “Today I’m picking up for 18 families, but sometimes I get food for as many as 25 or 30 families,” he said. // Photo by Caitlyn Barnett

“We’re serving a major part of Crook County, which has a population of around 7,500,” said Monte. “We’re also drawing from Weston County and Campbell County. We don’t turn anyone away. If they want food, we give it to them.”

In 2019, Crook County and Weston County faced the highest rates of food insecurity in all of Wyoming. That Moorcroft, located in Crook County, didn’t have a plan to feed its community in the event of an emergency, let alone a plan to alleviate the food insecurity faced daily by so many in the town, upset Monte — so much so that he partnered with fellow faith leaders in the community to start Moorcroft Interfaith Community.

Since first partnering with Food Bank of Wyoming in 2019, Moorcroft Interfaith Community has grown from a monthly pantry serving 12 families to an official 501(c)(3) that has served 352 families in one day. They are also a TEFAP (The Emergency Food Assistance Program), Totes of Hope™, and Mobile Pantry partner with Food Bank of Wyoming, and operate the first three Thursdays of every month in various capacities in order to best serve their immediate and surrounding community.

Close up of Monte standing in front of food bank boxes
Monte Reichenberg spearheaded the creation of Moorcroft Interfaith Community along with several other faith leaders in the town. Today, the Food Bank of Wyoming Hunger Relief Partner feeds upwards of 2,000 families a month. // Photo by Caitlyn Barnett

“We try to make food available wherever we can,” said Monte. “During the summer, we have Totes of Hope™ at the West Texas Trail Museum, library, senior center, and police department so kids can go in during the day and tell them they want food and pick it up. We have people who pick up and deliver boxes to their neighbors in Hulett, New Haven, Aladdin, Sundance, Beulah, Alva, Osage — all of the outreaching areas. We just try to make it available wherever we can in whatever ways we can.”

To support Monte and Moorcroft Interfaith Community in providing food for those struggling with hunger in their community, as well as Food Bank of Wyoming’s 13 other mobile pantry sites that serve upwards of 79,000 individuals every year, consider donating today. Every dollar helps forward our mission of ending hunger in Wyoming for good.

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