SWEETWATER COUNTY — Kathy Siler first notices the growing numbers after school starts.
The longtime executive director of Food Bank of Sweetwater County said the uptick continues throughout the fall, with November being the peak month.
“November is the busiest month of the year,” she said.
This month is no different. In Rock Springs Thursday, a line at the front door extended down the sidewalk and around the building. Siler expects 570 families to seek assistance during the food bank’s distribution days before Thanksgiving. The estimate is 390 families in Rock Springs and another 180 families in Green River.
Siler said the number of people utilizing the food bank increased during the COVID-19 pandemic and while demand has declined since then, numbers never returned to their pre-pandemic levels. Siler said she has also noticed more repeat clients making use of the pantry. While reasons for utilizing the food bank are unique to each client, Siler suspects the inflation of food prices to be a contributing factor overall.
“The price of everything has gone up,” she said.
She said inflation has even impacted the purchasing power the food bank has with its monetary donations. Each dollar donated can purchase three meals for an individual from Food Bank of the Wyoming, through Siler notes that same dollar used to cover four meals. Despite the reduced amount of food, money still goes a long way in keeping the shelves of the food bank full.
Residents can donate money to the food bank through its website or by mailing a check. The food bank accepts food donations during its distribution days. Residents can also take non-perishable foods to their local library, which will be taken to the food bank. Siler said the food bank also functions as a United Way diaper bank and accepts donations of diapers, diaper wipes, formula, and other items as well.
On Saturday, the Boy Scouts host their annual Scouting for Food Drive in Rock Springs and Green River. Siler said Boy Scouts in Rock Springs have left bags at homes for residents to place food into, then pick them up Nov. 18 starting at 9 a.m. In Green River, Boy Scouts will be collecting donations outside of Smith’s Food and Drug and Golden Hour Senior Center from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Commercially packaged non-perishable food is appreciated, but other items including soap and shampoo are needed as well.