N.H. Food Bank asks hunters to ‘Hunt for Hungry’
The New Hampshire Food Bank is asking hunters to “Hunt for the Hungry” this season. For the seventh consecutive year, the food bank is collecting donations of whole or processed game animals for distribution at food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters and group homes across the state.
Last year, the partnership between the food bank and Fish and Game brought in 1,200 pounds of donated deer, bear, moose and other game, the equivalent of about 1,000 protein meals, said Bruce Wilson, director of operations at the food bank.
For families in need, finding a fresh venison steak is often a great surprise, Wilson said.
“It literally goes right out of the freezers whenever we get it,” he said. What started as a few donations seven years ago has grown to an average of 1,200 to 1,300 pounds of meat annually, Wilson said.
“Right now, it’s the start of the hunting season, so the timing couldn’t be better,” he said. “It does help us get some more quality protein.”
About 90 percent of donations are venison, he said. The food bank is not equipped to accept donations of wild game birds such as turkey or grouse. “It’s a lot more difficult to manage and control,” Wilson said.
The donations come at an important time for the food bank as the holidays approach. To date this year, the food bank has distributed 7.5 million pounds of food, a 19 percent increase over last year. Still, the 1.1 million pounds of protein donated this year is down 8 percent over the same time in 2013, which Wilson attributed in part to the closure of Shaw’s and Stop & Shop locations in New Hampshire. Some of those losses were offset by the turmoil at Market Basket, he said.
“We did see more donations from the whole Market Basket issue because there was no product moving through. They decided it would be better to donate it to the food bank,” Wilson said.
Hunters are in a good position to lend a helping hand, said Fish and Game Executive Director Glenn Normandeau.
“The Hunt for the Hungry program is a great way for hunters to share their harvest and help needy families get through the winter,” Normandeau said. “Wild game is a local renewable resource that is high in protein, low in fat and all natural – not to mention delicious.”
As far as cooking that big hunk of game? The food bank can provide help with that, too. “If they do happen to ask, we have a nutritionist on staff that can provide them with some recipes for whatever they have,” Wilson said.
To donate game, and for packaging instructions, call the food bank at 669-9725, ext. 245. Hunters who want to donate a whole deer can bring it to Lemay & Sons Beef in Goffstown, where they will process the meat for the food bank at no charge.
(Iain Wilson can be reached at 369-3313 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter@iainwilsoncm.)