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Hunters for the hungry

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As hunting season is under way, hunters have options for donating their harvest to those who can't afford to put meat on the table.  That hasn't always been possible: Last winter a special 3 Investigates Report found hundreds of pounds of wild game donated to a local homeless shelter was  destroyed by health inspectors. That prompted state legislators to resolve the procedural snafu to make sure such an event never happened again.

"It is such a blessing for the hunters to be able to donate their meat to go to the rescue mission and a bigger blessing is for Bellevue Meat Company to process it free of charge and give it to the Rescue Mission." Reverend Henry Martin is the Executive Director for the Shreveport Bossier Rescue Mission.  Every year they feed thousands of hungry men and women, sometimes entire families, right here in our area. Earlier this year, a employee with the Department of Health and Hospitals noticed the mission was serving venison-that was donated to the shelter. The health inspector destroyed the $8,000 dollars worth of deer meat because it was received from an unapproved source, a group of hunters called Hunters for the Hungry.

The action outraged many in our area and a group of lawmakers including State Sen. Barrow Peacock took the issue to Governor Jindal."You don't want what someone hunts to go to waste. You always want it to be used and have a use for it. But it's something that is now in state law, it clarifies it, so we will not have the tragedy that happened this past year."

The law, SB 58/Act 371 allows for venison, wild hog meat and fish to be received and used by non profit or charitable organizations.
And to make things easier in the future, act 366 of SB 84 says next year the state will authorize a check off donation to Hunters for the Hungry when purchasing a hunting or fishing license starting June 1, 2014.

Chris and Carla Nesbitt own Bellevue Meat Processing Company. Carla said, "Governor Jindal passed a bill pretty quickly so that this deer season people could donate and we could continue with the Hunters for the Hungry program." They are just one of the now state-approved businesses that will process donated game, at their own expense, and give to those in need. Chris said,  "We generate 4 to 5 thousand pounds of ground meat per season typically, from the generosity of our hunters donating their meat. Carla offered, "They're more than willing to give their deer that they've harvested, that they've spent time out on their deer leases and property getting ready to hunt and they're more than willing to donate their deer for a good cause right here in our community."
And it's that kind of generosity that spreads and ensures that this type of program will be available for anyone that needs it. Carla said, "Maybe one day I might need the help and the Shreveport Bossier Rescue Mission could be there for me or someone in my family."

Rev. Martin said, "We can't thank Bellevue enough for what they do. And we just want to thank the hunters for hunting and providing that meat for the homeless."
Louisiana state senator Sheri Buffington of District 38 was the author of the Hunters for the Hungry bill.

 

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