The COVID-19 pandemic has driven multiple initiatives across Wyoming to strengthen food systems and decrease reliance on out-of-state suppliers. This summer, Fremont County has seen bigger gardens, and more farmers’ markets, among other things.
Summer is winding down, especially after receiving the cold and snowy dose of reality this week, and with that outdoor farmers’ markets will also come to an end. As Riverton Local Food Hub Director Jack Schmidt put it, “Now what?”
Local foods available year-round
Recently, Central Wyoming College and Riverton Local Food Hub made a presentation to the combined Wyoming House and Senate Agriculture Committee asking for CARES Act funding, Schmidt explained. The money would be used to establish a local food store in Riverton.
A few weeks ago, Frank Wallace, of Gillette, was highlighted in a CBS News segment about establishing an indoor farmers’ market, noted Schmidt. The Riverton market would be similar in providing local foods year-round. “Frank Wallace is doing what we believe is the logical next step in rebuilding this local food chain.”
Local food store plan
The location for the store would be the empty 1500 sq. ft. storefront, former home of Dominos Pizza, adjacent to Smith’s Food and Drug.
Producers bring their products to the store, price them and then the items would be added to the system showing their availability for purchasing either online or in the store.
“We have an app developed that would allow the consumer to check their phone and see what is available in our local foods store and they can purchase those items online from their phone,” Schmidt explained. Customers could then pick-up their online order at the drive-up window or it could be brought out to the parking lot. Customers will also be able to shop inside the store if they’d prefer.
“We are trying to mirror the convenience of Smith’s with local food,” he said. “We would also try to mirror their hours of operation. We want local food to be as convenient as commodity food.”
Following the presentation from CWC and Riverton Local Food Hub, the funds request was sent to Governor Gordon and is awaiting his final decision.
CARES Act funding must be spent by the end of 2020.
County 10 will keep you updated as the progress unfolds.