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Hunters enlisted to fight hunger

In Alabama, hunting is more than just a sport; it is a way to provide for the less fortunate.

Hunters Helping the Hungry is one way to do just that. The program provides a way for Alabama hunters to give thousands of pounds of ground venison to needy families and individuals around the state.

The program began as a joint project of the Governor’s Office, the National Rifle Association, the Phillip Morris Company, the Alabama Conservation and Natural Resources Foundation. Through the years, the program spread throughout the state with two processing plants from the Black Belt participating.

Jimmy Richey, of Richey’s Deer Processing in Greensboro, said he has participated in this program and similar operations for several years.

“We have been doing it for about 15 years,” Richey said. “We started with Buckmasters and then the National Rifle Association took it over with the Conservation and Natural Resources Foundation and we just moved into their program.”

The response, Richey said, has been very positive. He said they always have a great deal of meat to donate.

“It has been a really good thing so far,” Richey said. “We just get the meat ready and call the food bank or the Boy’s Ranch to see what we can do.”

Darrell Cook, of Stump Hollow Deer Processing in Greensboro, said he began participating in the program last winter. Cook said they have found the program to be very helpful as well.

“We have been doing it for two years now,” Cook said. “It helps us out and it helps the state out. Whenever people have more meat than they need they donate it to us and we grind it up, get it ready and call one of the agencies like the Salvation Army or the West Alabama Food Bank.”

In their second year, Cook said, customers have shown more interest in making donations.

“The program helps a lot of people out, and we have already had several people participate this year,” Cook said. “I think since this is our second year, people have heard about the program and they want to participate.”

They have already collected 200 pounds of meat, Cook said, and expect to send out their first batch any day now.

The program began in 1999 and since then, approximately 229,000 of ground venison have been donated to Alabama Food Banks.

During the process, meat is processed into ground venison, packaged and frozen in quantities not exceeding four pounds each.

Hunters are asked to encourage processors to participate. Call (334) 242-3467 for more information. Donors can send check to Alabama Conservation and Natural Resources Foundation, P.O. Box 140, Montgomery, Al. 36101-0140. Hunters Helping the Hungry should be noted on the check.