Hunters Feeding the Hungry, a nationwide organization with a
fast-growing Anne Arundel chapter, connects hunters with the needy by
paying butchers to process deer meat and then getting it to local food
Last week, local chapter coordinator David McMullen of Edgewater
unloaded more than 1,150 pounds of venison steaks, roasts and ground
meat at the Anne Arundel County Food Bank in Crownsville.
"It is a great program," he said. "It encourages hunters to return
to their heritage as food providers. It is a great way for hunters to
give back and help their fellow man."
Bruce Michalec, executive director of the Food Bank, took it all.
"This is nice. It comes properly packaged, inspected and labeled - so clients know what they are getting," he said.
The venison will be distributed to the several food pantries and soup kitchens around the county.
"Food prices are up. When gas goes up, everything goes up," Mr. Michalec said.
He said there's also an increased demand for food throughout the
county, especially heading into the holiday season. "This protein
really helps our efforts," Mr. Michalec said.
Mr. McMullen said he knows giving the meat to the Food Bank is the best way to meet that need.
"I know, giving it to Bruce, that it will get to the most needy," he said.
For Mr. McMullen and other volunteers, Farmers and Hunters Feeding
the Hungry is a Christian ministry, answering the call to service and
compassion found in the Bible's Matthew 25:
40 to aid the needy: "As ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
"I have to do this. I love doing this," Mr. McMullen said. "I donate
time doing this at least some part of every day. This lets me turn my
obsession with hunting into an obsession for good."
Hunters can donate deer they don't need for themselves at no cost.
The butchers - three in Anne Arundel County, with a fourth getting
ready to join the effort next year - incur some cost, however. They
process the venison at a 20 percent discount, and smaller operations
must pay to get insured.
"I had one butcher that did not clear any money last year," Mr.
McMullen said. The 14 deer he processed barely covered the insurance
Last year the eight chapters in Maryland paid out about $125,000 to
process 2,500 deer at an average cost of $50 per deer. An average deer
yields about 200 servings, and last year the Maryland chapters provided
62.5 tons of meat to churches, food banks and shelters - at no cost to
They get funding from the Department of Natural Resources through $1 out of each hunting license.
"But if we got more funding through donation we would be able to provide even more for the hungry," Mr. McMullen said.
As it is, each of the 34 butchers around the state are given a
certain number of deer they can process to make the money last. If
there's enough money, more deer can be allotted.
Austin's Deer Processing in Hanover was allotted 40 deer this year.
"But by the second day of muzzle-loading season last week, we
already reached the limit," said Kristin Trossbach, who's in her second
season at Austin's. "They were able to increase ours to 70."
The work for the donated meat makes her and others at Austin's feel they're doing some good, she said.
"It feels good to be able to help in any way we can," Ms. Trossbach said.
She said she remembered last year when a truck was being loaded with frozen venison for donation.
"The guy kept saying, 'You mean you have more?' We kept loading it and loading it. That was great."
Mr. McMullen said he hopes to be able to repeat that scene this year
and is looking for donations to help defray the butchering costs.
He said the organization is trying to get more butchers involved so hunters have more places to drop off deer.
"We have to make it convenient," he said. "A hunter is not going to drive 50 miles out of his way to donate."
The organization was founded in Hagerstown 10 years ago, and now there are more than 100 chapters in 30 states.
Founder Rick Wilson started the organization after stopping to help
a woman along the side of the road 10 years ago. He thought her car was
broken down. But no. She wanted help loading a small roadkill buck into
Mr. Wilson told her it had to be registered with the state, that she
could get in trouble. But the woman looked into his eyes and said
simply, "I don't care. My kids and me are hungry."
the Author: Capital Online