Hunters work to feed families

Published 10:30 am Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Hunters throughout the Heart of Virginia have used the past deer season to help feed hundreds of families, a Cumberland County resident active with the Virginia-based Hunters for the Hungry program said.

Sha Montore said more hunting clubs in the county have gotten involved with Hunters for the Hungry during 2017’s hunting season.

Since then, Montore said she estimates that close to 1,000 pounds of deer meat has been processed in hamburger and donated the hungry families in the community.

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The organization Hunters for the Hungry, based in Virginia, began in 1991.

Montore said hunters in the area take deer meat to area processors, who convert it into hamburger meat. That hamburger meat, which is processed and packaged, is then distributed to area food banks.

Montore said she estimates that close to 1,000 pounds of deer meat was donated to food banks throughout Cumberland, including the Cumberland Community Cares (CCC) food bank and mobile pantry since hunting clubs in the county began to be involved.

Montore said the meats are packaged individually in one-pound portions, which she said can be added to casseroles and spaghetti.

“It goes a long way, absolutely,” Montore said.

She said the hunting clubs in the county enjoyed being involved in donating the deer they hunt. Monture said between members of her family they had donated two deer, which she said could make approximately 200 pounds of deer meat.

“I know from experience of speaking to people that pick the deer meat up to cook, they’ll throw sausage seasoning in or pork fat to make it taste like sausage,” Montore said. “They make hamburger helper, spaghetti, lasagna, meatloaf, hamburgers, chili, there’s so much you can make with deer burger.”

She said a meat processor in Cumberland, Monroe Miller with Pleasant Valley Meats, located near Raines Tavern, processed the meat to be donated to area food pantries.

Miller said Pleasant Valley has partnered with Hunters for the Hungry organization for approximately 10 years.

He said for the process to convert meat from one deer into hamburger to supplement a family meal is approximately 10 minutes.

Miller said for those who are interested in donating deer meat during the next hunting season, they would only need to stop by.

“We have everything set up so that they can bring (it).” Miller said, that the paperwork to process the deer would be at the location.

Laura Newell Furniss, director of the Hunters for the Hungry organization, said since the organization was founded in 1991, that 25.5 million servings of venison had been donated from hunters throughout the state of Virginia and that the organization works with 80 processors in the state. She said the meat is then distributed to area feeding programs and food pantries.

“I think the numbers speak for themselves, that 25.5 million servings, that’s a lot of good quality meat that gets to people,” Furniss said. “It’s a very hard thing to not be able to provide food for your family.”

Furniss noted taking meat to a woman who Furniss said the woman’s face lit up when thinking of the ways the meat could help feed her family.

“We really appreciate the generosity of the hunters who donate these deer and the people who put up money to help cover the cost of having it wrapped and frozen so it can be distributed.”

She said hunters in the Heart of Virginia have also donated to FACES in Farmville.

“They’re an excellent program, and they needed more meat, and so it’s been a win-win to be able to provide them more meat to be able to give to people in need there in their community,” Furniss said about FACES.

Ellery Sedgwick, president of FACES food pantry, said Thursday he and other representatives at the food pantry have appreciated all of the donations they have received for venison from hunters in the area.

He cited that the food pantry, from November until January, have received approximately 1,150 pounds of venison processed by Miller.

“It’s a lot of good people working together,” Furniss said.