By Patrick Massey
Deer season begins this Saturday, Sept. 24, for most zones, including zones 11 and 13 in Polk County with archery. (Visit AGFC.com for hunting zones and regulations.) During this much-anticipated time of year one statewide organization is reminding hunters in Arkansas how they can join the fight against food insecurity.
Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry helps families in need by providing food pantries with fresh protein sourced right here in Arkansas’ deer woods. “The group’s mission,” President Ronnie Ritter said, “is to transform a renewable resource into food for the hungry.”
“Primarily what we do is, we get hunters to donate their deer to participating processors, they field dress it, they grind it into burgers, and then we give it to local food pantries, homeless shelters,” Ritter said. “We’re trying to infiltrate this area down here and get more hunters and processors involved.”
Deer can be dropped off at any participating facility, processed and then picked up by the organization and distributed to local food pantries. T-N-L Meat Processing in Polk County is a participant.
All donated meat is distributed free and is usually donated to food pantries in the same county. It is served at churches, children’s shelters, rescue missions and community food banks. Ritter said he works with many feeding agencies across the state and the number one commodity they need is protein.
“If you ask food pantries what they need, it’s meat,” Ritter said. “It’s been harder lately for them to get it, too.”
Ritter hopes to encourage more hunters in Arkansas to consider donating one or more of their legally harvested deer to Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry. He particularly addressed those hunters who aren’t always interested in filling all their tags.
“Somebody that wants just a deer for their family, go out and shoot another and donate because there’s a lot of needly folks out there all across the state,” Ritter said.
Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry has provided more than four million servings of meat for food pantries across the state since its founding in 2000. The group, he said, has received tremendous financial support over the years in its mission to transform an abundant white-tailed deer population into a renewable food source for the hungry.
For more information on Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry, and to find out how to join the fight against food insecurity, visit www.arkansashunters.org or call 501-282-0006.