Venison program expanding

March 07, 1998|By MARLO BARNHART

Venison program expanding

If Rick Wilson ever doubted there was a need for the deer meat provided by Hunters Feeding the Hungry, he doesn't anymore.

"We got a call from a church in Baltimore whose food bank was completely out of meat," Wilson said. "We told them we only had 100 pounds left but that they could have it."

Wilson said church members drove up to Hagerstown and got the venison.

The idea to feed the hungry of Washington County with surplus deer has now expanded into half of Maryland's counties, Wilson said. Churches are joining up in large numbers, he said.


Begun by a group at Christ Lutheran Church in Hagerstown, Hunters Feeding The Hungry raised money to pay for processing of donated deer during the 1997-98 hunting seasons that recently ended in Maryland.

Local hunters donated 74 deer - 3,700 pounds of meat - at a cost of about 70 cents a pound, Wilson said.

The money to pay for processing the nearly two tons of meat came from five local churches, one service club, a fraternal organization and three individuals, Wilson said.

Now Wilson would like to work with hunters who expect to get permits to be issued this spring to ease crop and property damage caused by an overabundance of deer. Last year, the state issued nearly 10,000 such permits.

The big hurdle will be to get the money to process the deer killed by those permit hunters, Wilson said.

"The cost of processing one deer is $35. If we get 1,000 deer, we'll need $35,000," Wilson said.

Once processed, the venison is made available to Food Resources Inc., the nonprofit food warehouse on Eldridge Drive in Hagerstown. That agency serves as a distribution center.

The deer meat will be picked up from the processors by Food Resources Inc. and distributed to its member agencies.

Ernst Market in Clear Spring, Holsinger's Meat Market in Maugansville and Woodlawn Farms in Sharpsburg process the venison for this program.

For more information on the Hunters for the Hungry program, call 301-733-3482.

Checks can be made payable to Hunters for the Hungry, c/o Christ Lutheran Church, 216 N. Cleveland Ave., Hagerstown, Md., 21740.

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