Monday, October 07, 2019

Programs encourage hunters to donate meat to food banks

Food banks don't usually get a lot of lean protein from donors, but some state programs are trying to help out with programs that encourage hunters to donate their kills.

"The meat—mostly venison, with some moose and bear—will be doled out by food pantries after being donated by hunters who participate in various state programs," Katie Queram reports for Route Fifty. "The details differ, and so do the names (there’s Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry, Sportsmen Against Hunger, and Hunters For The Hungry, to name a few) but the premise is largely the same: hunters donate meat without having to pay processing fees, giving food pantries a much-needed source of nutrition for their clients."

Dairy, produce and protein are in high demand at food banks because most of the donations come in the form of canned or dried goods, according to Celia Cole, the CEO of Feeding Texas, which represents food banks in the state. Programs like Texas Hunters for the Hungry are funded through some state Parks and Wildlife funds and some money from hunting and fishing licenses. "The idea is to make it easier for hunters to contribute to the program without it costing them anything, and to encourage processors to participate by offsetting the cost for them as well," Cole told Queram.

The programs are especially popular with trophy hunters, or those who hunt for food but don't want to keep hunting once their freezers are well-stocked. Being able to donate their kills gives them a way to continue an activity they enjoy while helping the hungry, Queram reports.

"It’s difficult to know how much meat is donated nationwide, though some states have local estimates," Queram reports. "In Maine so far this year, hunters have forked over at least 5,000 pounds of meat. And last year in Texas, Hunters for the Hungry distributed 105,179 pounds of venison."

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