The more than 50,000 meals delivered by semi-tractor trailer to the Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies on Thursday didn't mark just another seasonal charitable contribution from Western Wyoming Beverages in Rock Springs.

"This is a huge gift from one company and their employees to the entire state of Wyoming," said Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies spokeswoman Victoria Ziton.

The Evansville-based Food Bank provides food for the entire state, acting as a wholesaler to local food pantries, Ziton said. "Our goal is to make sure that every food insecure family has meals no matter what corner of Wyoming they're in."

Besides providing the food to the public, the organization procures food, household and family items such as cleaning supplies and diapers from businesses, she said.

Statewide, 73,830 residents in the state worry where their next meal will come from, and 16.7 percent, or about 12,300, of them are children, according to the Food Bank.

Statewide, 25,000 children are "food insecure," which the U.S. Department of Agriculture defines reduced quality, variety, or desirability of diet, with "very low food security" as multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.

These aren't bloodless statistics.

"Without a healthy, nutritious diet, nothing works," Ziton said.

"Children can't study, parents can't work, seniors -- medications don't function properly," she said.

The Food Bank provides fresh fruit, vegetables and protein, and the employees of Western Wyoming Beverages put those in the prepared meals delivered Thursday, Ziton said.

The organization distributes about 10.5 million pounds of food a year. That translates into 8.4 million meals, or 23,238 meals a day. Of that number, Natrona County receives the most, with nearly 2.7 million meals in fiscal year 2017 and 2.5 million meal in fiscal year 2018, according to the Food Bank.

This summer, the Food Bank consolidated its area operations at its warehouse in Evansville where its 13 employees, including three truck drivers, work. Its three semi-tractor trailers logged 132,437 miles in fiscal year 2018.

The Food Bank would not succeed without its volunteers at pantries in the Casper area and throughout the state, Ziton added.

Amber Muir of Western Wyoming Beverages said her company put together 31,104 meals last year, had a goal of 50,000 this year and exceeded that by 582 meals.

A meal has a protein packet, a cheese packet, rice and vegetables, Muir said. A meal can feed three to five people, but more if the individual or family adds meat of other ingredients to what's in the package, she added. The packet has a recipe book, too, to help families create meals.

Western Wyoming Beverages is a distributor for Pepsi and Anhauser-Busch, and it got the idea for packaging the meals from a manager who learned of another distributor that did this, Muir said.

To assemble the 50,582 meals, the company gathered its 166 employees and their families plus some community leaders, and divided into groups of five. One of the five holds a large funnel and the others dump in the contents into bags, she said.

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