CASPER, Wyo. – Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies has more than doubled its food deliveries across the state since early March.
Director Tony Woodell, who calls the increase in demand “stunning,” says it’s a clear indicator of how the sudden shutdown of businesses is affecting people across the state.
“Every community is impacted,” said Woodell, adding that food insecurity has been exacerbated not only by job losses but by school closures as well.
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“They’re looking for help in any way they can get it,” he said.
The food bank works with around 180 “partners,” or local food banks and charities. The orders from those organizations have doubled in an extremely short time period.
In addition to sending more food to area pantries, the Food Bank has initiated “drive up” mobile pantries around the state, where volunteers place food boxes in vehicles and practice social distancing.
Woodell expects to deliver 4,800 of those boxes, each containing roughly enough food to feed a family of four for a week. That adds up to some 400,000 meals, said Woodell.
“We’ll have been in 23 counties by the end of June,” he said.
One of the biggest challenges of the food bank has aways been transportation, using three semi-tractor rigs and one box truck to move food around the state from their base in Evansville.
“Those vehicles are on the road six days a week,” he said, “so we’re pushing our drivers, our warehouse staff and our equipment to the limit because people need food all over the state.”
Social distancing restrictions has also put pressure on the warehouse staff, since fewer volunteers and workers can be in the same place at once.
While the Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies’ parent organization is based in Denver, all money donated to the Wyoming branch says in the state.
“If they’re giving to Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies, that money is going to help Wyoming residents,” he said.
Financial donations are always excepted, and some donors are providing matching funds on donations. Links and information for donating can be found at their website.
The food bank has recently partnered with first lady Jennie Gordon’s Wyoming Hunger Initiative, and other organizations such as Homeland Security, the COVID-19 Hunger Taskforce for Wyoming, and state, county and local governments.
“There is nowhere in the state where we aren’t working right now,” he said.
“We can’t do this alone, we’re working in partnerships with all of our food pantries.”
The Latest Statistics from the Wyoming Department of Health:
What to do if you are feeling sick: In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Casper-Natrona County Health Department says that people who are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms should contact their primary physician.
If you do not have a primary care provider, and live in Natrona County, please contact the COVID-19 hotline, operated by the Casper-Natrona County Department of Health. The line is open Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm 577-9892. Hotline services are intended for Natrona County residents and may not be able to provide specific information to persons calling from out of county.
Officials ask that you please do not self-report to the Emergency Room. Persons experiencing problems breathing should call 9-11.
For general inquiries and non-symptom related questions about COVID-19, please contact the Casper-Natrona County Health Department via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Practice Social Distancing by putting distance between yourself and other people. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Stay home if you’re sick
- Cover coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
A list of area closures attributed to COVID-19 are available here.