Tamara Sandberg

Tamara Sandberg

For the 700,000 Kentuckians who struggle with hunger — including nearly 1 in 5 of Kentucky’s children — receiving protein-rich food from their local food pantry can help them get through a tough patch.

Kentucky has an abundant supply of protein in the form of the white-tailed deer common throughout the state. This time of year drivers are well aware that too many deer in a particular area can cause vehicle collisions, and farmers must contend with damage to agricultural crops. According to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, deer hunters are the most effective and cost-efficient way to control deer numbers.

Kentucky Hunters for the Hungry serves the dual purpose of providing nourishing protein for those in need while helping control the deer population. By encouraging hunters to harvest and donate deer each season, the organization provides an outlet for hunters to help their communities and promote environmental stewardship through wildlife management. Sportsmen can drop off and donate their whole deer at a processing facility to be processed at no cost to them.

If you are a landowner needing help controlling depredation, Kentucky Hunters for the Hungry also administers the “Kentucky Whitetail Access” program. It matches landowners with hunters to help reduce deer damage. Processing fees are covered by Kentucky Farm Bureau and its participating partners.

What about those individuals who want more protein but have no idea how to prepare wild game? In response to this potential barrier to accepting donated venison, the University of Kentucky Nutrition Education Program recently launched a new Cook Wild series of recipe cards. Included are savory dishes such as deer camp venison sausage, venison sloppy joes and venison chili. Recipe cards and more information are available at PlanEatMove.com.  

Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles declared last week as Kentucky Hunters for the Hungry Week and applauded the program for providing enough protein each year for 560,000 meals.

As sportsmen head out to enjoy this year’s hunting season and fill their freezers, please consider donating deer to help put nourishing food on the tables of your neighbors at risk of hunger. Learn more at KyHungersForTheHungry.

Tamara Sandberg is executive director of Feeding Kentucky, a statewide network of seven regional Feeding America food banks and 800 local food distribution organizations such as food pantries and soup kitchens. Its members distributed 72 million meals throughout Kentucky last year. She can be emailed at Tamara@feedingky.org.

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