MARBLE FALLS — While stockpiling a freezer full of venison is a nice benefit of deer hunting, you also can make a difference in the lives of fellow Texans who are struggling with hunger.
Through Texas Hunters for the Hungry, a Texas Food Bank Network program, hunters can donate venison to people who might not have enough to eat.
“We tell hunters that this program expands the capacity of their freezer,” said Lee Pipkin, Feeding Texas’ food resources director. “It lets them enjoy more of the sport they love while helping a neighbor by donating what they don’t need for themselves.”
According to the network, one in five Texas families struggles to put enough food on the table. According to the Baylor University’s Texas Hunger Initiative, the Lone Star State ranks among the highest for “food insecurity” with more than 1.8 million children falling under that category as well as another three million adults.
Hunters for the Hungry provides healthy meat for those families and children.
Feed Texas coordinates with hunters, meat processors, food assistance providers, landowners and state agencies to administer the program.
During the 2013-2014 hunting season, processors donated more than 100,000 pounds of meat to food assistance programs. Since the program’s start more than 20 years ago, it has provided more than two million pounds of meat – or an estimated 9.3 million servings – to hungry Texans.
A recent report from Feeding Texas found Texas food banks serve more than 1.1 million households annually. Forty-nine percent of those households reported a need for more protein items such as meats from local food assistance providers.
“This is a simple way for hunters to alleviate hunger and malnutrition in Texas,” Pipkin said. “It promotes environmental stewardship and provides a meaningful way to help their communities.”
Hunters can donate their legally tagged, field-dressed deer at participating meat processors across the state. The hunter contributes a nominal fee that allows the processor to prepare and package venison for distribution to local food assistance providers.
According to the Hunters for the Hungry website, several participating Highland Lakes processors include:
Miiller’s Llano Smokehouse, 705 W. Young in LLano
M&M Deer Processing LLC, 608 FM 580 East in Lampasas
Hill Country Fine Meats, 1405 State St. in Marble Falls