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Wyoming Only State Without Food Security Policy Council

Melodie Edwards
Wyoming Public Radio

Nearly 75,000 people in Wyoming qualify as food insecure, meaning they struggle with hunger and access to healthy foods. That’s almost 13 percent of the state and it’s even higher for children. That’s why several groups—including Centcible Nutrition, Casper’s Food For Thought, Gillette’s Sharing the Harvest and the Wind River Reservation’s Growing Resilience—met for a summit last month to discuss the need for a food policy council. Wyoming is the only state without such a council. 

UW Community and Public Health Professor Christine Porter said the job of these councils is to address food shortages by coordinating everyone in the food system from eaters to growers to sellers.

“One of the things that can go wrong in a food policy council is that if a voice is missing or not having negotiating power at such a council, it is often the people who are struggling with food insecurity.”

Porter said they want to work to include low-income rural families as they begin creating a food policy council in Wyoming.

Jamie Purcell is the executive director of the Wyoming Food for Thought Project in Casper. Her organization provides 700 boxes of food to needy people each week and grows food as well. She said a food policy council could fill a real gap in Wyoming’s food system.

“There’s almost like this unseen population of people in Wyoming who really could benefit from this policy council’s work,” Purcell said. “Their voices are so small, they don’t have the opportunity to have an association. They don’t have the opportunity to hire lobbyists.”

Wyoming Food For Thought hosted the summit. The coalition hopes to pursue the idea of such a council in coming months.

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.
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