Food Closet is seeking venison donations
By COBY LaRUE
With deer hunting season officially getting under way Sept. 11, local hunters will have ample opportunity to hunt this year due to an extended hunting season and an unlimited doe harvest.
With that extra opportunity, local hunters are being urged to consider donating some of their deer harvest to the local food bank.
Solid Rock Food Closet Director David Carpenter said that the local food bank served some 2,465 pounds of venison (deer meat) to clients. Since the program began, the average amount given away to those in need has been 2,200 to 2,500 pounds per year.
While the venison is a relatively small part of the overall operations-the closet served some 232,866 meals to about 12,937 clients-the additional meat garnered through the program is an important piece of the local food puzzle.
"This year requests (for food assistance) are already up about 15 percent from what they were last year," he said. "We have a greater need than ever before for any meat we can get and deer meat is as healthy as any food we can serve. It is a very important part of the diet of many of our clients."
The donated venison is given out by request, but the closet volunteers usually ask those already getting food if they would like the meat. "We rarely ever get turned down," Carpenter noted. Cuts vary and depending on what's available.
As for making the donations, all the meat is processed through one of three Alleghany processing centers.
Those harvesting animals that would like to donate to the food closet may make an appointment to take the animals, as soon as possible after the kill, to one of the following three registered processing centers:
• Alvin Brown, 1032 Barr Rd., Piney Creek. Phone 657-0084 or 359-2307;
• Mark Kroeger, 219 Doell Ln., Sparta. Phone 372-2954.
• Welter Hamm, 3071 N.C. Highway 18 South, Sparta. Phone 657-7440 or 372-4830.
Animals should be field dressed before delivery to the processor. The processor should be informed that the meat is for the food closet, which will then freeze the processed meat prior to distribution to local families in need.
Hunters are not required to pay the processing fee for the meat, but are encouraged to do so if they can. "There is no charge for them to do that, but they can donate money toward the effort," said Carpenter. "I would encourage people to participate. It's a whole lot harder in this economy to get donations to get food. The need is there for the meat."
The food closet pays the cost of processing, which usually is around $35 per deer. The money raised through donations is used to pay for the processing, but Carpenter noted that funds "usually come up short."
Those in the community that have an interest in supporting the program by contributing funds to help pay for processing deer meat can donate to the Ministerium and earmark the check in the "for" line Deer Meat Program.