Hunters Against Hunger feeds families via deer donations
The Hunters Against Hunger program helps feed people across the state who are food insecure by providing deer meat to local community food pantries. Hunters donate the meat to participating meat processors. COURTESY
OKLAHOMA CITY – “Oklahoma is Hungry” is not a headline normally seen in conjunction with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. But by partnering with the state’s food banks to help feed families, the ODWC created the Hunters Against Hunger program.
Since 2002, HAH has helped provide 550,429 pounds of venison to food-insecure families, equating to about 2 million potential meals provided through the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, according to the ODWC.
About 16% of Oklahomans are food-insecure, and one in four children don’t get the food they need, according to the ODWC.
“What it means is they don’t have a steady source of food coming in. Kids will come home from school and they don’t know if there’s going to be something there to eat or not. They don’t know if they’re going to get a snack. They don’t know if they’re going to get supper, that type of thing,” HAH coordinator Becky Rouner said.
She said HAH gets the venison from in-state meat processors after hunters donate legally harvested deer. Hunters complete a donation form and can donate $10 to the processor for processing fees.
“That form is basically just information that will come to us later to make sure it’s a legally harvested deer. We ask all hunters to donate $10 to the processor to cover a portion of the processing fee. The processor will take that meat and grind it all up into ground, 1-to-2-pound packages,” Rouner said.
Processors then contact food pantries to pick up the meat so that it can be distributed.
Rouner said the meat helps different organizations such as soup kitchens and women’s shelters, or is given to families in need.
She added that deer meat is also a healthier source of protein. According to the Mayo Clinic, it provides 21% of the recommended daily serving of iron and contains Omega-3 fatty acids that help prevent heart disease and stroke.
“You’re not going to find a more pure healthy meat. So it’s a wonderful source of protein. You can take a pound of it and make a Hamburger Helper and feed a family of four. There are a lot of hungry people out there,” she said. “Nine times out of 10 the meat stays local. It stays within those communities. One of the most difficult things for your food banks and stuff to get their hands on is fresh protein. I love it. If I have extra meat after I’m deer hunting I donate it. It’s a great thing.”
For information, www.wildlifedepartment.com/hunting/deer-processors
.Hunters Against Hunger Processors in Cherokee Nation
County – Business Name – Address – City – Phone
Craig – Tagged Out Processing – 436963 E. 250 Road – Vinita – 918-915-1336
Mayes – Bontrager Deer Processing – 6836 W. 590 Road – Chouteau – 918-476-7681
Nowata – Anderson Processing – OK-28 – Delaware – 918-467-3659
Ottawa – High’s Deer Processing – 402 W. Market – Fairland – 918-676-3203
Sequoyah – 3:16 Deer Processing – 104419 S. 4640 Road – Muldrow – 918-208-9290
Washington – Peck’s Custom Butchering – 13911 Hwy 75 – Dewey – 918-534-1382