ROCK SPRINGS — Food from the Field is a new program that allows hunters to donate meat to support Wyomingites in need. The program designed to make a difference in the state was started by first lady Jennie Gordon as part of the Wyoming Hunger Initiative.
Hunters who want to donate do not have to contribute the whole animal; they can donate portions of their harvest. This lets hunters who wish to keep meat still contribute in some way.
Tony Woodell, director of Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies, said, “It is our first year, so we are hoping that all of the hunters who harvest participate in the program.”
The biggest question for the food bank is how high the participation will be To participate and donate game, hunters must follow multiple steps.
First, the animal must be harvested legally in the state of Wyoming.
“A copy of the tag must be left with the processor and kept on record for up to three years so there is verification of legal harvest,” Gordon said.
One thing that Wyoming is doing differently compared to other states with similar programs is requiring testing for chronic wasting disease. Gordon added, “We thought that if we are going to start a program, we should include the CWD component as well as work with stateinspected facilities to ensure overall safety.”
Meat must be processed by a state-inspected facility. The carcass and tag must be turned over to the processor, where a CWD test will be conducted prior to being processed to help protect the consumers.
Woodell said once the meat is handed over to the facility, the processor takes it from there. The food bank will work with processors to distribute meat throughout the state.
FILLING A NEED
Food bank demand has gone up drastically, according to Woodell.
“We distribute on average, before COVID, 800,000 pounds a month; after COVID, 1.8 million pounds of food a month,” he said.
Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies distributes food in all 23 counties and has about 170 plus other agencies they work with throughout the state.
The Food Bank of Sweetwater County is a local agency that is partnering with the Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies. There will be a meeting where the local food bank will get more information about participating in the program.
One of the biggest things Woodell noted is that this is a partnership.
“This is a Wyoming solution helping Wyoming residents and its residents helping each other,” Woodell noted.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is a big supporter of the program. To help spread the word, it placed information about the program in this year’s hunting regulations and there will be information in an envelope for successful draw recipients.
“We have been fortunate that two Wyoming Game and Fish commissioners donated tags to be raffled off to support the longevity of this program,” Gordon said.
The first raffle ended on June 12, and the second raffle is available through July 10.
For more information or to purchase a raffle ticket, visit https://nohungerwyo.rallyup.com/foodfromthefield.