|New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife|
November 30, 2001
According to the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, the popular Hunters Helping the Hungry (HHH) Program, which oversees the distribution of sportsmen-donated venison to food assistance programs throughout the state, has been so successful that a state appropriation used to offset processing fees for donated venison has been exhausted. As a result, hunters who intend to donate deer to the program must also contribute the $65 processing fee for each deer until additional funding sources can be found.
Through the first half of this year's deer hunting seasons, Garden State hunters have donated more than 24,000 pounds of venison to local food banks through the HHH Program. Though venison donations have been impressive, monetary contributions to cover butchering fees have not kept the same pace. As a result, the $75,000 state appropriation earmarked to defray processing, storage and distribution costs has been depleted.
Hunters Helping the Hungry is a non-profit endeavor coordinated by the Northwest New Jersey Community Action Program Food Bank (NORWESCAP), the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, United Bowhunters of New Jersey and the New Jersey Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs. The program was originally started by a group of hunters in Hunterdon County who realized that such a program would help the Division of Fish and Wildlife meet its management objective of reducing the state's deer herd while also providing meat to local food banks.
"Hunters have really taken the initiative to provide for the less fortunate in their communities while at the same time assisting farmers and landowners who are experiencing deer problems," said Division Director Bob McDowell. "In fact, hunter participation has been so overwhelmingly successful that the program has run out of funds just half way through the deer hunting seasons."
A supplemental appropriations bill in state government entitled A-3908 has been introduced that would provide an additional $90,000 to the HHH Program. To date, the bill is still in committee and hopes are that it will pass soon.
"Sharing the harvest from a successful hunt is a hunting tradition," said Federation President Jim Sykes. "It's wonderful to see all the venison being donated, but unfortunately we have no more funds for processing. As a result, we are asking hunters to take a generous step by donating the processing fee with each deer until this funding crisis is resolved."
Businesses and the general public can become partners in this program by donating money that will pay for processing the many deer that hunters are willing to donate. To donate toward deer processing fees, please make checks payable to the: NORWESCAP Food Bank Venison Fund, 201 N. Broad Street, Phillipsburg, NJ 08865 or the Food Bank of Monmouth & Ocean Counties Venison Fund, 516 Passaic Avenue, Spring Lake, NJ 07762. Your generosity will be greatly appreciated by the many people that are fed by this program each year.