Not all venison brought home by hunters during deer season ends up in the freezer. Some of the tasty meat finds its way to charitable food banks through a state Conservation Department anti-hunger campaign. Conservation Operations Director Rick Liles said the Hunters Helping the Hungry campaign has donated 218,380 pounds of ground venison to food banks since it began in 1999 under former Commissioner Riley Boykin Smith.
The venison can be made into meatloaf, spaghetti and other dishes. Steve Freeman, director of the Firehouse Shelter in downtown Birmingham, serving 300 meals a day to men, women and children, says the shelter has a constant need for meat, especially as cold weather forces more people inside. Posters have been placed in many sporting goods stores and processors to remind hunters of their opportunity to donate a deer.
The Alabama Conservation and Natural Resources Foundation raises funds through donations and its benefit quail hunts to pay the processors one dollar per pound for the packaging. Hunters may voluntarily pay for the processing to provide more venison to distribute.
On the Net: A list of deer processors is available at www.outdooralabama.com.