One of Wyoming’s best traits has always been giving – to other people or specific causes. It just seems to come natural to the people of the state and the region. And, in today’s society, there are always plenty of good causes to give to.
Giving to good causes has been around since Native Americans helped pilgrims at Plymouth Rock during their first winter, a deed rewarded by the first Thanksgiving. From then on, giving has become common practice, especially in our region today.
During the Cattlemen’s Club Luncheon at the recent Wyoming Stock Growers Association Summer Convention and Trade Show, First Lady Jennie Gordon spoke on the Wyoming Hunger Initiative (WHI), which she founded in 2019. It has turned out to be quite a success story.
During previous conventions and other agriculture gatherings in the past, the First Lady has given current updates on WHI and what is in the planning. It is always a popular topic, and many people enjoy listening to new happenings and programs under WHI.
In our world today, there are talkers, and then there are doers. First Lady Gordon is a doer.
I read a quote from her stating, “We can make a difference, and we can make a difference as a Wyoming solution versus someone else’s.”
And boy, has she ever!
The First Lady’s latest project is the Beef for Backpacks program, which was started in the spring of 2023. It supplies beef snack sticks made from donated beef to school-age children. These beef snack sticks are a “way to get protein to kids who need it most in a way kids will love.”
The program, which kicked off in Laramie County, is a partnership between the First Lady, 307 Meat Company, the Wyoming Stock Growers Association and the Wyoming Beef Council and part of a pilot program through the Friday Food Bag Foundation.
This foundation provides weekend food options for local children who might not otherwise have access to food away from school.
In Cheyenne, the Friday Food Bag Program packs around 1,100 bags weekly for kids. In these weekly bags, some 18,700 beef sticks were provided during the 2023 spring semester in Laramie County. The First Lady mentioned, on average, a single donated beef cow will provide around 1,800 beef sticks. That is quite a number of beef sticks.
WHI has three major programs – the Wyoming Hunger Initiative Grant, which provides funding for anti-hunger nonprofits to innovate; the Food From the Field program, which is a partnership between WHI, game processors, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the Wyoming Department of Agriculture to streamline donations of game meat to food pantries statewide and the Food From the Farm and Ranch program, which donates meat and produce to keep locally-grown protein and produce in local communities where it can make the most significant impact on food insecurity.
These programs have many people donating their time and dollars to managing county and community programs for food supported by farmers, ranchers, hunters and others in the communities to provide beef, lamb, pork, wild game and produce to support the goals of the programs.
We salute First Lady Jennie Gordon, all of the people who are a part of WHI and gracious donors who provide the food. One might want to think seriously about becoming a part of these programs.
Dennis Sun is the publisher of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup, a weekly agriculture newspaper available online and in print. To subscribe, visit wylr.net or call 800-967-1647.