$2,500 NRA grant helps Hunterdon deer hunters provide venison to the hungryPublished: Monday, July 26, 2010, 5:05 PM Updated: Monday, July 26, 2010, 5:08 PM Hunterdon County Democrat Hunterdon County Democrat Hunters Helping the Hungry has received a $2,500 grant from the NRA Foundation to assist with the cost of butchering donated venison that will be given to New Jersey food banks. According to Les Giese of Clinton Township, co-founder of Hunters Helping the Hungry, “This grant allows us to continue providing thousands of pounds of high protein venison to New Jersey’s hungry families.” Since the Hunters Helping the Hungry program began, it has donated over 234,000 pounds of venison, providing approximately 936,000 servings to feed hungry people in the community. The Hunters Helping the Hungry Program was developed by Giese and two other hunters during the 1997-1998 hunting season to help provide needed protein for local food banks while addressing the overpopulation of deer in our community. Ten deer (approximately 500 pounds of venison) were donated that first season. State Federation of Sportsmen Clubs and United Bowhunters of New Jersey, with the support of the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife and the New Jersey Health Department, have kept the initial efforts moving forward. Many individual hunting clubs also support this program. Hunters participate in the program by donating deer through an approved butcher to the NORWESCAP or Ocean Monmouth Food Banks. Processing fees are paid to the butcher by the food banks from a fund consisting of donations and grants. Butchers are inspected by the state Health Department. Hunters not only spend time hunting and money for licenses and permits, but they also donate at least $25 of the professional meat processing fee when they drop a deer off for processing. Hunters in northwestern New Jersey are encouraged to donate deer to the NORWESCAP Food Bank in Phillipsburg while hunters in eastern New Jersey may donate their deer to the Ocean Monmouth Food Bank in Neptune. We are working on establishing butchers in the Mercer county area. Supplying venison to those with a protein deficient diet helps combat learning and health problems, Giese said. After processing, donated venison is distributed by the NORWESCAP Food Bank and the Ocean Monmouth Food Bank to over 400 needy feeding charities throughout Hunterdon, Monmouth, Ocean, Warren and Sussex Counties in New Jersey and to America’s Second Harvest Food Banks statewide. The Hunters Helping the Hungry program is funded through grants and donations. The web site is at HuntersHelpingTheHungry.org. Donations to Hunters Helping the Hungry can be mailed to HHH, Box 587, Lebanon 08833. © 2010 NJ.com. All rights reserved.
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