One in eight Americans goes to bed hungry each night, including one in every four children. The number of Americans who are dependent on food stamps has increased by 70% since 2007. While America’s obesity epidemic continues to escalate, so do poverty and hunger issues in this country. With this in mind, I’m extremely disappointed with the Louisiana State Health Department, which forced a homeless shelter to destroy $8,000 worth of venison donated by a hunter organization.
As reported by CBS Houston, “Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission lost 1,600 lbs. of venison because the state’s health department doesn’t recognize Hunters for the Hungry, an organization that allows hunters to donate any extra game to charity.”
A stunned Rev. Henry Martin of the Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission, told KTBS: “We didn’t find anything wrong with it. It was processed correctly, it was packaged correctly.”
And it appears there was absolutely nothing wrong with the condemned meat. It was processed and packaged correctly at a facility licensed and inspected by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture. However, after the Louisiana Department of Health received a complaint that venison was being served at the homeless shelter, an inspector forced shelter volunteers to throw the meat in the dumpster and pour bleach on it. Later, on its Facebook page, the health department claimed “there is no way to verify how the deer were killed, prepared or stored.”
This is an unfortunate story that hurts hungry people in this area; folks who lost the opportunity to enjoy a nourishing protein source -- something that’s often in short supply in many food banks and homeless shelters. Not only that, but it discourages people like me who often donate roasts and hamburger to shelters.
I realize it is difficult to handle perishable items in food banks, but it’s these fresh, whole foods that can offer the best nutrition for those who are living on a limited budget and can’t afford to buy these items themselves.
We can do better, and wasting food is a shame when there are so many who need it. Did you know Americans waste, on average, 40% of their food? It’s unbelievable to me that, as a society, we turn our noses up to leftovers. I’m not saying we all need to be members of the “clean plate club;” after all, I think that’s what is contributing to our obesity problem in the U.S. today, but I do think we need to be mindful of our food usage and waste.
I encourage everyone to continue to donate to your local food bank or homeless shelter. If you are a hunter, there are groups like Sportsmen Against Hunger, which has aligned themselves with food banks. For example, South Dakota’s Sportsmen Against Hunger donated 78,735 lbs. of game meat in 2012. This huge donation included 1,891 deer, 46 antelope, 2,811 pheasants and 2,044 Canadian geese. To date, South Dakota hunters have donated 633,500 lbs. of venison to needy families, which equates to 2,534,000 meals for the hungry.
Another program you should know about it America’s Second Harvest (ASH), which is a network of more than 200 food banks. By donating through ASH, your donation can be tracked and measured to see how it helps fight hunger.
I feel fortunate to have a freezer full of meat in my house. After reading stories like this one, I certainly won’t take this luxury for granted. There are people in need, and I believe it’s critical to be mindful of those in your community who are in need of a regular decent meal.
Do you donate to food banks? What motivates you to share your blessings with others in your community? Share your thoughts with other BEEF Daily readers, and let’s keep paying our good fortune forward.