CHEYENNE - Wyoming first lady Jennie Gordon announced a hunger initiative Thursday aimed at fighting food insecurity for children and families across the state.

The Wyoming Hunger Initiative will bring together various groups working on food security, according to a news release issued Thursday by Gov. Mark Gordon's office.

"I am not interested in reinventing the wheel, but rather in making a difference for kids in Wyoming," Jennie Gordon said in the release. "If I can shed light on the work that is currently being done and bring organizations together to direct attention to a united effort, that is my ultimate goal.”

The initiative, set to launch today via social media promotions and a TV appearance by the first lady, will be supported by the Wyoming Governor's Residence Foundation board, which was recently reconfigured with new appointments.

"I chose my board based on the expertise that they could bring to the initiative, as well as residence improvements," the first lady said. "I wanted the entire state of Wyoming to feel represented."

As part of the initiative, the board will raise funds that will be turned into grants for organizations and school districts throughout the state. A gift from the 2019 Inauguration Committee and funds raised at the 2019 First Lady's Luncheon will also help launch the initiative, according to the release.

Data from Feeding America shows 12.3% of Wyomingites are food insecure, meaning they lack access to enough food for a healthy life. The Equality State falls just below the 12.5% national average for food insecurity.

The issue is especially prevalent among kids. Wyoming Department of Education data shows almost 34,000 students, just over 36% of the entire K-12 population, qualify for either free or reduced-cost lunch, according to previous Wyoming Tribune Eagle reporting.

The launch announcement comes after the first lady spent months touring food security organizations around the state. In March, she and her husband toured the local Friday Food Bag Foundation, which sends out more than 900 bags of food per week with students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch in Laramie County School District 1.

"Just recently, I found out that one in six children in Wyoming actually struggle with hunger, and I was just shocked to find out that. It just made me really sad," Jennie Gordon said at the time. "If there's a way we can spotlight it so people who aren't aware of it - like I was until just recently - can donate their time and help with donations with food, we can make a difference."

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