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Beef for Backpacks feeds thousands of Wyoming students

(Carolyn Gordon / Wyoming Hunger Initiative Website)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — In 2023, the Wyoming Hunger Initiative, in partnership with the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, Wyoming Beef Council and 307 Meat Company, launched the Beef for Backpacks program. This initiative, under the Food from the Farm + Ranch banner, aimed to provide protein-rich snacks to students in need.

Thanks to generous corporate sponsors and local beef donors, over 215,000 beef sticks were distributed to weekend food bag programs statewide for the 2023–24 school year.

The program met its goal of 65 donated beef cattle, with contributions from counties across the state. Laramie County received 12 cows, Natrona County received 11 cows, and Campbell County received 14.5 cows. This effort ensured that children across Wyoming received essential nutrients during weekends.

First Lady Jennie Gordon, who spearheaded the initiative, expressed her gratitude, stating, “Thanks to the support of corporate sponsors and local beef donors, Wyoming Hunger Initiative was able to provide over 215,000 beef sticks to weekend food bag programs statewide.”

Weekend food bag programs are crucial as they offer meals to students who might not have access to food otherwise, according to the Wyoming Hunger Initiative website. Protein, a vital nutrient for growth and development, is often expensive and challenging for these programs to procure. Beef for Backpacks addresses this issue by supplying locally raised protein in a portable form every weekend throughout the school year.

The 307 Meat Company in Laramie processed all the donated beef. The Wyoming Stock Growers Association leveraged its network to secure beef donations, while the Wyoming Beef Council and Multivac handled the labeling of the snack sticks. 307 Meat Company even upgraded its equipment and process capabilities to meet the demands of the Beef for Backpacks program.

Residents can support this cause by donating beef or contributing to processing costs. Each donated beef yields 2,880 beef snack stick packages, serving 80 kids for 36 weeks. In addition to Beef for Backpacks, the Wyoming Hunger Initiative runs various programs, campaigns and events to support those in need across the state. To learn more or to make a donation, visit the Wyoming Hunger Initiative website.