|Updated: 11/14/2011 7:39 am
||Published: 11/13/2011 7:17 pm
VILONIA, AR - Funding cuts for the Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry program will affect donations this hunting season. That's why hunters and meat processors are being asked to help out, so the needy aren't the ones who suffer.
The success of the program depends on the generosity of hunters to donate venison and other wild game, and cooperation from meat processors to work to help feed the hungry.
Andy Shaw processes and packages coolers filled with wild game at Cypress Valley Meat Company in Vilonia. After 15 years cutting meat, Shaw says he makes sure there's little waste. "We take all the meat off the bones and get it ready to be ground."
That means every bit of healthy, lean protein can go to the Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry program. "Last year we were at about 13 deer for the season. This year through the opening of modern gun, we're already at 13, so it's been a big increase this year. Several people have called and asked questions and say as soon as they harvest a deer, they'll bring it to us to donate to the Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry program.
Shaw says even with funding cuts to the program, hunters and meat processors still want to help the community. "Approximately 30 pounds from one deer, so if you look at it as a quarter pound of hamburger, you've just made 120 hamburger patties."
Hamburger is the most versatile for families to cook, so the meat is packaged into one pound bags to seal in freshness to freeze and extend the shelf life up to a year.
The meat waits in the freezer to be picked up for distribution. At the end of the week, 5 or 6 more boxes will hopefully be ready, but Shaw says especially now with funding cuts, it's important to spread awareness to help keep the program going.
Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry provides 1.5 million meals to those in need. Monetary donations are also acceptable and are tax deductible.
The program works by reimbursing hunters and meat processors, but the program can no longer pay for the field dressing of the deer. The hunter will have to do that or be willing to pay the processor.
The start to modern gun deer hunting season started Saturday, November 12th. Nearly 26,000 deer were harvested this weekend, bringing the 2011-2012 deer season harvest number to about 91,000 so far.