Fair to Fork program changing the world one hog at a time

Wyoming first lady, Jennie Gordon paid a visit to the Wheatland food pantry last Monday bringing processed pork and a recognition plaque to Wheatland High School sophomore Karly Jones who raised the pig that was purchased by Gordon’s Wyoming Hunger Initiative. Gordon2: Wheatland High School sophomore Karly Jones was given a plaque of recognition by Wyoming first lady Jennie Gordon Aug. 29. It was presented to her at the Wheatland Food Pantry where pantry workers had gathered to safely store the meat and to congratulate Jones. Gordon3: Butterfly Butt is the pig that Wheatland High School sophomore raised as a secondary animal to be entered into the drawing to win the Wyoming Hunger Initiative’s Fair to Fork lottery. Jones named the animal because of the butterfly-like marking on his backside.

WHEATLAND – Wyoming first lady, Jennie Gordon is a believer that every little bit not only helps, but is necessary to eradicate hunger in Wyoming.

Gordon’s plan is not only to eradicate hunger, but to keep it nonexistent in Wyoming with her Wyoming Hunger Initiative program.

 According to first lady Jennie Gordon, the Wyoming Hunger Initiative which was her initiative as she came into the office has really taken off and has seen some great growth throughout the state of Wyoming.

“What we’re working on is really not reinventing the wheel,” Gordon said. “We want to work with all the people who are already working in this area on the ground and Lynn Kirkbride who is the secretary has been on from the start and has been a great asset.”

The Wyoming Hunger Initiative that Gordon has chosen to champion is ending childhood hunger and food insecurity for children in Wyoming. As a part of the Gordon’s campaign, The Food Hunger Initiative really was brought to the forefront of a pressing need to be addressed in conquering hunger in Wyoming’s children.

According to Kirkbride, one in five children in Wyoming are suffering from childhood hunger or food insecurities.

“As leader of the spouse’s group, we took on the challenge of raising money to back the initiative,” Kirkbride said. “I really love being involved in things that actually do things and have some traction. I knew from knowing Jennie and seeing what she was doing that this was going to be a big deal. It was going to make a big impact.”

Since the inception of the program, the impact that the initiative has caused, has been epic.

Gordon, who was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, into a family with nine siblings did not have it easy as a child with many mouths to feed and a meager income.

“My dad was in the Air Force,” Gordon said. “Dad had been stationed in Wyoming in the ‘50s in Casper and Buffalo. We came here every year for vacation, and with such a large family that involved going camping for a month. We would camp in the Big Horns and eventually my dad retired here.”

A program within the Wyoming Hunger Initiative is called “Fair to Fork” and according to Gordon, it was a way to encourage the youth of Wyoming to roll up their sleeves and help in the cause.

“We think it’s really important for each student to be able to give back to their community,” Gordon said. “We know that we have five thank you plaques that we will give out, but we may have a sixth one. Some of the counties have not given us all the names yet. We asked the 4H educators to get a secondary animal so the kids could put their names in and it was basically a lottery system. That’s how they pick the winners.”

The pigs that Gordon purchased was part of her Hunger Initiative program under the arm of the Farm And Ranch program.

“In that program we have domestic beef, lamb and pork,” Gordon said. “We wanted to team up with 4H and FFA to really bring the youth into volunteerism and donation of something that they spent many hours of their own time raising.”

Wheatland High School sophomore Karly Jones who had raised her secondary animal was a pig that she called “Butterfly Butt” because of a butterfly marking that went from mid-pig all the way to the tail. Frank Jones, Karly’s grandfather says his name for the pig was “Better Bacon.”

Karly won the lottery and had her pig purchased by the Fair to Fork program. Jones not only received a check for her pig, but was also the one who got to choose where the pig would be donated. The Wyoming Hunger Initiative paid for the processing which was done at Chug Springs Butchery in Chugwater. Gordon and her team picked up the processed hog and delivered it to the Wheatland Food Pantry Aug. 29 along with a plague of recognition to Jones for her contribution to fighting hunger in Wyoming.

“It’s very exciting,” Jones said. “I think we got the letter a week or two after fair. When they bought it, it was with the intention that it would be donated to a local food pantry of our choice, and this was my choice to give back to Wheatland.”

Connie Thomas, director of the Wheatland Food Bank was very appreciative and excited that Gordon came to deliver the goods.

“It was wonderful of Jennie Gordon who bought five pigs in the state and one of the purchases was Karly Jones’ pig,” said Connie Thomas, director of the Wheatland Food Pantry. “Karly had her choice where to donate the pig and she chose us. “

There were many faithful pantry volunteers on hand to congratulate Jones and to see that the meat was safely stored.

In giving encouragement and advice to Jones and to other students, Gordon said, “Whatever path you choose you should follow it. For me, working on something that is near and dear to my heart is really important and I have a passion for it. So, if you want to do something, be very passionate about it and I think you’ll have huge success.”

The Fair to Fork program asks a simple question.

“Think a hog can’t change the world? Think again. We know Wyoming kids have a heart for helping; we also know you’re never too young to join the fight against food insecurity.”

Fair to Fork checklist for educators/advisers:

  • Distribute information cards at swine taggings, in your newsletter, or in any other form of communication this year so that youth are aware of the opportunity but noting that only one animal will be chosen per county.
  • Notify members of their ability to participate if they wish. Each county hog will be selected in the form of a lottery so please be sure that members are using the link to indicate their interest in participating. NOTE: Wyoming Hunger Initiative will NOT purchase animals that are sold at the county junior livestock sale but will consider a secondary animal.
  • If your member is selected to participate, complete paperwork to be provided to the responsible party delivering the animal to the processor for proper handling, billing and pickup instructions.
  • The member who donates will be honored at the Wyoming State Fair on the final Saturday to include a plaque presentation and to ride with the Governor and first lady in their parade float.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION TO KEEP IN MIND

  • Only one hog per county will be selected through a lottery in 2022 for a purchase price of $500
  • Processing will be paid for by Wyoming Hunger Initiative
  • All hogs purchased by Wyoming Hunger Initiative must be processed at a USDA or state licensed facility
  • Processing appointments will be set up by the 4-H or FFA member and not Wyoming Hunger Initiative

RECOGNITION

Wyoming Hunger Initiative hosted a recognition event during the Wyoming State Fair in Douglas, Wyoming. An invitation with detailed information for participants was sent to each member; this included the option to ride in the Governor’s and first lady’s wagon during the State Fair parade. Members were not required to participate but were definitely encouraged to if possible!

HOW TO RECEIVE YOUR PAYCHECK

Wyoming Hunger Initiative will purchase one hog per county for $500. In order to receive your paycheck, each advisor and/or educator should send an email to [email protected] with the following information: Name of the 4-H or FFA member, current mailing address, name of processor where purchased hog is being purchased at and processing date.

In giving encouragement and advice to Jones and to other students, Gordon said, “Whatever path you choose you should follow it. For me, working on something that is near and dear to my heart is really important and I have a passion for it. So, if you want to do something, be very passionate about it and I think you’ll have huge success.”

In addition to the Fair to Fork program, Gordon has also instituted the “Grow A Little Extra Project” hat kicked off for the second year in Platte County.

Gordon’s Wyoming Hunger Initiative is proud to partner with the Cent$ible Nutrition Program (CNP) and the University of Wyoming Extension for the second year of the Grow a Little Extra project. This collaboration utilizes existing resources to create a sustainable solution to hunger through local food.

The Grow a Little Extra program encourages home gardeners and existing community gardens to dedicate one or two sections to “grow a little extra” to share with local food pantries growing food specifically for local food distribution agencies.

Free seeds are available at Platte County Extension office, 57 Antelope Gap Rd, on the Fair Grounds.   CNP educator, Mary Evans, and UW Extension will coordinate the Grow a Little Extra efforts in the area, including accepting produce donations, weighing them, and distributing them to local anti-hunger organizations. In Platte County.

Last year’s campaign yielded over 10,000 pounds of fresh garden produce donated for distribution around the state to local anti-hunger organizations. Fresh produce is difficult and costly for the food pantry system to procure, and this project encourages people from across the state to participate in this Wyoming solution to hunger. 

“University of Wyoming Extension is already doing good work around the state with their Master Gardener program and Cent$ible Nutrition Program,” says first lady Jennie Gordon. “This Wyoming Hunger Initiative effort continues to leverage the work already being done to increase access to local produce for a wide range of people in Wyoming.” Strengthening local food systems reduces food insecurity and increases positive health outcomes, which supports Wyoming Hunger Initiative’s goal of ensuring nourished kids, healthy families, and thriving communities across the state.  

“The Cent$ible Nutrition Program and UW Extension values the partnership with the first lady’s Wyoming Hunger Initiative to increase access to locally grown fresh produce to people in need. Together, we have been able to increase produce donations and nutrition education to food pantry and anti-hunger agency patrons,” says Cent$ible Nutrition State Director Mindy Meuli. 

Anyone in the state of Wyoming who enjoys gardening is encouraged to grow an extra row or two and donate the produce to their local Extension office, where it will be weighed and distributed to local anti-hunger organizations.

Contact Mary Evans at 307-322-3667 or [email protected] for more information.

Wyoming first lady, Jennie Gordon paid a visit to the Wheatland food pantry last Monday bringing processed pork and a recognition plaque to Wheatland High School sophomore Karly Jones who raised the pig that was purchased by Gordon’s Wyoming Hunger Initiative. Gordon2: Wheatland High School sophomore Karly Jones was given a plaque of recognition by Wyoming first lady Jennie Gordon Aug. 29. It was presented to her at the Wheatland Food Pantry where pantry workers had gathered to safely store the meat and to congratulate Jones. Gordon3: Butterfly Butt is the pig that Wheatland High School sophomore raised as a secondary animal to be entered into the drawing to win the Wyoming Hunger Initiative’s Fair to Fork lottery. Jones named the animal because of the butterfly-like marking on his backside.

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