UW and Partners Bring Whole Grains to Wyoming Food Pantries

five people with a stack of boxes and some small bags on top
From left, Sara Wood, of Wyoming Heritage Grains; Mindy Meuli, director of UW’s Cent$ible Nutrition Program; Megan McGuffey Skinner, assistant director of the Cent$ible Nutrition Program; Caitlin Youngquist, UW Extension educator; and Kali McCrackin Goodenough, Cent$ible Nutrition program manager, finish packing boxes of spelt flour for pickup by Food Bank of Wyoming. (UW Extension Photo)

A new partnership among Wyoming Heritage Grains, Food Bank of Wyoming and University of Wyoming Extension is bringing Wyoming-grown whole grains to food pantries across the state.

The initiative connects Wyoming producers and processors, such as Wyoming Heritage Grains, with anti-hunger organizations, including Food Bank of Wyoming, and nutrition education programs, such as UW Extension’s Cent$ible Nutrition Program (CNP). Together, these partners will enable statewide distribution of wheat berries and spelt flour, increasing access to and knowledge of how to use whole grains.

“The donation of whole grains has a double benefit,” says CNP Director Mindy Meuli. “Not only does it increase food access, but it also addresses nutrition security, which provides nutritious and healthy food options to people who are food insecure.”

The project started with a heritage grains study led by Caitlin Youngquist, a UW Extension educator. In addition to conducting field research, Youngquist facilitated the donation of surplus grains to local food pantries. Through her efforts, the donation program grew to include Wyoming producers and CNP.

“I think it’s really important for people to eat real, whole food and, so, I was all about this project,” says Sara Wood, owner of Wyoming Heritage Grains. She grew Red Spring wheat berries for the first round of 2023 donations and donated her time to mill Wyoming-grown spelt into flour.

With the help of Food Bank of Wyoming, the spelt flour and wheat berries are being distributed to food pantries across the state this month, starting in Fremont County June 6-8.

“Supporting local producers and food initiatives is part of the future of feeding our Wyoming neighbors,” says Rachel Bailey, director of Food Bank of Wyoming. “With our large presence and distribution capabilities, Food Bank of Wyoming has the ability to transport these grains to our community partners across the state, who can ensure that this nutritious food is going to neighbors facing food insecurity.”

To support the effort, CNP educators across the state will work with local food pantries to provide educational materials and cooking demonstrations focused on these whole-grain foods.

“It is really fun to work on these collaborative projects that get Wyoming-grown food to Wyoming residents,” Youngquist says. “CNP has been a great partner, and Wyoming Heritage Grains provided the milling and packaging services we needed to get this done.”

To learn more about the project, call CNP at (307) 766-5375 or email cnp-info@uwyo.edu.

About the Cent$ible Nutrition Program

UW Extension’s CNP serves people with limited resources through nutrition education and local partnerships that help make the healthy choice the easy choice. CNP is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program. CNP is available in every Wyoming county as well as the Wind River Indian Reservation, offering both in-person and online classes. Programming is free to those whose incomes qualify. For more information, visit www.uwyocnp.org.

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