Initiatives Provide Vital Hunger Relief and Nutrition Support

bagged and unbagged produce on counter

For individuals experiencing food insecurity, the healthy choice isn’t always the easy choice. Cent$isble Nutrition Program (CNP) educators and food pantry directors across Wyoming have observed the lack of tools or resources is a common barrier low-income families face when it comes to leading healthy lifestyles. 

For example, food-insecure individuals may receive a pound of dry beans or lentils from their local food pantry or The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), but they don’t have the time, tools or education to cook them properly.  

“Dry beans and lentils are the number one returned food item to our food bank,” says Julie Buckley director of the Thayne Community Food Bank. “Approximately 85-90% of the food returned to our food bank are dry legumes, because people don’t have the means or knowledge of how to cook and use them.”

In response, the Fremont County CNP is offering a series of cooking and nutrition classes to families and individuals with limited resources. Participants who attend the series receive a pressure cooker to use at home. 

“With this project, we hope to provide families with a multi-purpose cooking tool to promote the consumption of low-cost, nutrient-dense foods that are readily available to Wyoming residents,” says Jolene Velarde, Cent$ible Nutrition Program educator. “These electric cookers not only allow them to better utilize the foods available from community resources but provide a way to cook healthier homemade meals for those living in hotels or homes without an operating oven.” 

“The health benefits produced by using dry beans and other legumes can help stop the cycle of food insecurity and prevent hunger across Wyoming,” Velarde adds. “Plus, beans are a Wyoming-grown product, which can also help promote local growers in our community.” 

Community Garden Expands Access to Fresh Produce

The number of people struggling with food insecurity in Wyoming continues to rise as the price of food increases. To address the growing need for food resources in the community, the Natrona County CNP is expanding its community garden. 

Everything grown in the garden is harvested and donated to food pantries in the county. Additional raised beds will increase nutritional options and the amount of produce available to residents who use food pantries as a food source. The garden will also serve as a teaching opportunity for volunteers to learn more about growing fruits and vegetables. 

In 2022, the CNP community garden harvested and donated over 250 pounds of fresh organic produce to food pantries in Natrona County. With four new raised beds, the organization aims to increase the fresh produce harvested by another 50 pounds. 

Grant funds from Farm Credit Services of America (FCSAmerica) support the ongoing efforts of both initiatives. 

Community Involvement Contacts

For more information about our community involvement program, contact your local Farm Credit Services of America office or email community@fcsamerica.com.



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