GILLETTE — Hundreds of Campbell County residents stood in line at Family Life Church to pick up food, personal hygiene products, produce and other items at the Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies’ mobile pantry Monday.
“The situation is bad,” said Laura Becker of the uncertain status involving Blackjewel LLC and nearly 600 workers who have been locked out of their jobs for going on two months. “A lot of families are really struggling. It’s just really hard sometimes to make it.”
Becker and other residents like Scott Rock said they appreciated the work by volunteers to help at the mobile pantry. Those included Wyoming first lady Jennie Gordon, Rep. Eric Barlow, R-Gillette, and Gillette Mayor Louise Carter-King.
Rock said he used to work in the oil and gas industry and will be undergoing back surgery that he hopes will fix his issue so he can go back to work.
“It’s a blessing,” Rock said about Monday’s event. “It’s just at the right time.”
The event gives people a hand while they are in transition, Barlow said.
“Everybody likes stability,” he said.
The food bank works to keep local shelves full of fresh food, protein and shelf-stable items. Since the Blackjewel bankruptcy and lockout, trucks also have increased deliveries to the area to keep shelves full.
The food bank has 10 employees, including three truck drivers. It takes a day for a driver who has to spend the night after loading, transporting and unloading the items, Wyoming Food Bank spokeswoman Victoria Ziton said.
As for a community affected by the uncertainty of job losses, everyone feels the hit across the community.
Gordon said she came to help out at the mobile pantry to bring awareness to childhood hunger as part of her statewide campaign and show support for residents like Becker, Rock and others who may be struggling.
“We want to come and support the community’s efforts,” she said.
Employees from several local food bank sponsors like Trends Furniture Inc. and Campco Federal Credit Union also volunteered to serve products to residents.
Rebekah Bane from Trends Furniture sorted and distributed pears.
“This event is sort of a patch to help people,” she said. “I can’t help everyone, but I can do the small things. The community is about helping each other out when there’s a need.”
Campco Human Resources Director Jesse Jacobs passed out iced coffee.
It’s nice to see people coming together and really show the community a lot of support, she said.
“It’s so heartwarming to see the volunteers,” Carter-King said. “It’s also heartbreaking to see the turnout.”
People started making a line at 11 a.m, two hours before the start of the distribution. Residents picked up items ranging from shampoos and sparkling water to produce.
“I just can’t believe how many people are here,” Gordon said.
Ziton said about 50 people volunteered to help, excluding Gordon, Barlow, Carter-King and their staffs.
At July’s food distribution, Food Bank served 549 adults, 470 children, 83 senior citizens and 323 families, Ziton said.
Carrie Crump, whose husband Marty Crump is pastor at Family Life Church, said they were glad to be asked to host the event.
“It’s our responsibility to help our community and our fallen neighbors,” she said. “We don’t want to see anyone suffer or being in any predicament. We really hope that all those who need it come. We wouldn’t want anyone to not come for any reason.”
Zion said there could be another mobile pantry in the future, but the Food Bank of the Rockies will have to assess what the needs are.
Its local partners keep a pulse of the community and let people know what’s happening. This allows the food bank to judge whether to do another distribution or move up the schedule, Ziton said.