An Indiana organization, Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry, is asking Hoosiers for hunters and farmers to help feed those in need this deer season. Farmers, hunters, and 4-H members donate deer and livestock to their “Meat” The Need program.
Donations are then processed at local participating meat processors and the meat is distributed to hunger-relief agencies within the community it was donated in. The organization pays 100% of the processing fees so there is no charge to donors or agencies receiving meat.
According to Feeding America, an estimated 47% of the over 726,000 Indiana residents struggling with food insecurity make above the threshold to qualify for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
“Due to the lasting effects of the pandemic and the continuing rise in inflation, families are struggling to buy groceries and many are turning to food pantries for help for the first time.” Said Katie DeForest, Fund Development Director for Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry. “Unfortunately, these agencies are experiencing the same diminished purchasing power that families are facing with their own grocery budgets. Meat is especially difficult to obtain.”
Meat prices have risen over 13% since February 2021, according to the most recent data from the Consumer Price Index. Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry says this is making a noticeable impact on hunger-relief agencies throughout the state.
“More food pantries than ever have been reaching out for help from us this year. They simply can’t afford to purchase meat with the rising cost of groceries, and most of their donations are non-perishable items.” Said DeForest. “Meat is hard to come by and there’s a great need for it. It’s a major source of protein, which is so important for a healthy diet.” Executive Director Debra Treesh said this is where hunters can help.
Last year, venison accounted for more than 37,000 pounds of the over 213,000 pounds of meat distributed by Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry. The hope to surpass that number this deer season.
“On average, each donated deer provides enough meat for about 200 high-protein meals to those reached through hunger-relief agencies.” Said Treesh. “Every donation helps.”
Hunters who wish to contribute can take field-dressed deer to any one of several participating butchers in the area and inform the butcher of their intent to donate. Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry will pay the processing costs.
After processing, local food banks, pantries, and soup kitchens are called to pick up the donation. There is no charge to the livestock and deer donors.
For a list of participating meat processors, visit www.HoosiersFeedingtheHungry.org.
Farmers can donate livestock to the program year-round, and monetary donations are always appreciated.
“Thanks to our partnerships throughout the community, our average costs are only $1.43 per pound.” Said DeForest. “That means that funds donated to our program can purchase anywhere from 50-to-75% more meat than the same funds at current grocery store prices. The meat is then given to area hunger-relief agencies at no cost to them.”
Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry serves all 92 counties within Indiana. For more information on how to get involved or become a partner food agency to receive meat, visit www.HoosiersFeedingTheHungry.org.