EVANSVILLE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies (WFBR) programs are running about 90 percent above what they were in June 2019 according to WFBR Director Tony Woodell.
Boxes of food stored in the Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies warehouse in Evansville, Wyo. on Thursday, Dec. 26, 2019.
The increase in demand comes as Wyoming’s economy struggles through the coronavirus pandemic and deals with low oil prices. This means more people are unemployed and food insecure.
“The agencies that we work with, the partners that are out there, they’re seeing their needs increase so the orders that are coming in from those agencies have doubled and sometimes tripled as well,” Woodell said.
The food bank’s increased demand means it has a greater need for donations even though people are struggling.
Woodell said WFBR’s handling the increased demand in part because many people donated their $1,200 federal stimulus COVID-19 relief checks.
“Stimulus checks were designed to stimulate the economy and one of the best ways that we know how to do that is to get people the food they need,” Woodell said.
He said a reliable food source makes people feel safe and secure so they can get back on their feet.
“It means a lot to us,” he said.
Woodell also credits his staff and volunteers for their hard work. The food bank delivers across Wyoming and increased demand means they have to work even harder.
“What I told our staff is all of us need to lean in together. Just like a good Wyoming headwind that hits you in the face, you kind of got to lean into it to get through it,” he said. “And so right now all of the staff are leaning in and we’re seeing it in the amount of food and we’re able to get out.”
He said staff and volunteers are also wearing masks and gloves when handling food.
The food bank has also changed how it does mobile food pantries so people don’t have much in-person contact when getting food. Woodell said the food is boxed at WFBR’s Evansville warehouse. It’s then shipped to the mobile pantry site where staff place it in recipients’ trunks.