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Feeding the Hungry includes farmers

August 02, 1998|By MARLO BARNHART

The idea of using surplus deer meat to broaden the menu available to poor people has caught on so well that Hunters Feeding The Hungry has now evolved into Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry.

"We are getting a lot of support and a lot of deer ... what we need more of is money," said Rick Wilson, one of the organizers of the church-based outreach program in Washington County.

The money pays for the processing of the deer meat so that it can then be delivered to food warehouses and distributed to those who need it, Wilson said.

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

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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 in Maryland.

Information about the program is now available from the new website, www.hfth.org, thanks to the efforts of Gordon Krause, a member of the committee.

Also the program will be advertised in the 1988-99 Maryland Hunter's Guide which will be coming out soon, Wilson said.

Last winter the money to pay for processing nearly four tons of meat came from five local churches, one service club, a fraternal organization and several individuals, Wilson said.

All churches in the area will be getting letters soon, telling them how they can help.

"The cost is just 70 cents a pound," Wilson said. "I figure if each of the 4,800 churches in Maryland would donate $100-$200, we could feed a lot of people."

And now farmers who get crop damage permits to kill deer are being encouraged to donate that meat to the program. Wilson said estimates are that as much as 50 percent of those animals killed are left to decay in the fields.

In order to process 1,000 deer, Wilson said, the cost could reach $35,000 which would have to come from donations.

The organization is forming partnerships with Ruritan International, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Maryland Farm Bureau and the Maryland Sportsmen's Club.

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.

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

For more information on Farmers and Hunters for the Hungry program, call 301-582-4506.

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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