HANNA -- The Food Bank of Wyoming has finalized its 2021 mobile pantry schedule, with multiple stops around rural Wyoming.
The truck will arrive in Hanna for food distribution from 10 a.m. to noon on Friday, May 12, at the Hanna Rec Center at 8000 Highway 72. On June 4 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. the truck will visit the Rock River Fire Hall at 321 Ave. D.
Food Bank of the Rockies President and CEO Erin Pulling said in a March statement online that roughly 40% of the people the regional food pantry has served over the past year have never previously needed food assistance.
“We’re seeing people who had stable jobs suddenly put in positions of choosing between paying rent and feeding their families,” Pulling said. “Many of our community members didn’t know where to turn for their next meal. We’re here to let people know they can receive nourishing food with dignity from Food Bank of the Rockies and our fantastic network of 800-plus Hunger Relief Partners.”
Food Bank of Wyoming is the Wyoming hub of Food Bank of the Rockies, which underwent a rebranding in March. The new name, Food Bank of Wyoming, is intended to be a better reflection of the community-based organization, which provides food and essentials directly to people facing hunger and through more than 160 Hunger Relief Partners across Wyoming.
Hanna site coordinator Vivian Gonzales said that for two years, the food truck has served her community.
“I’ve been doing this for two years, since even before COVID-19, and my numbers haven’t really increased,” Gonzales said. “But it is important that we do have this stop. I serve probably around 150 families, or 300 individuals. There is a need here.”
The Hanna stop is a drive-through location with no preregistration necessary. To receive food, families will need to provide a name, phone number and a total number of household members. The Hanna site is staffed by Hanna Division Fire Department and EMS volunteers, she said.
“We have volunteers to load up the food, and we do not need any volunteers for this time,” she said.
Rock River site coordinator Sylvia Parvin said that her site is well-staffed.
“We have a team of veterans, from those that served in Afghanistan and Iraq to Vietnam. We have a good staff of volunteers,” Parvin said.
She did see an increased need during COVID-19 shutdowns but hopes it’s leveling off in her region.
“We did see an increase during COVID, but it is starting to go back down now,” Parvin said, adding that the truck stops in Rock River on the first Friday of every month.
“We are a mobile food pantry and don’t store anything. It comes in and is distributed to 120 families,” she said. “Distribution was down last month. From April, May’s was down a little bit, but that might be because people are going to stops in Hanna or Rawlins.”
The Rock River stop is also a no-questions-asked site, and preregistration is not required.
“There are a lot of families that need (assistance) and that is OK. There are people moving back in to work on the wind turbines, or work construction, and a lot of times they have a lot of family to take care of. This helps them out,” she said.
Across the Rockies, Pulling said Food Bank of the Rockies does not foresee a “going back to normal.”
“Food insecurity is going to rebound slowly,” she said. “We’ve stopped trying to estimate a timeframe. However, there are things that we will carry with us in our future — listening and responding to community needs and thinking outside the business model of how we’ve always operated.”
For a full schedule of stops, visit https://wyomingfoodbank.org/find-food.