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— With Nearly 500,000 Arkansans in need, U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., is supporting “Hunters Feeding the Hungry.”

Arkansas has third highest incidence of hunger in nation, and the “Hunters Feeding the Hungry” program has provided more than one million meals to Arkansans since 2000.

Arkansas hunters donated 46,000 pounds of venison and other wild game to food banks in 2008.

Lincoln, chairman of the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, is promoting the program.

Through the program, Arkansas hunters donate venison and other wild game to be processed and distributed to homeless shelters, soup kitchens and food banks last year.

Lincoln introduced a Senate resolution recognizing the efforts of hunters, sportsmen’s associations, meat processors, hunger relief organizations and state agencies that make the program such a success in Arkansas, and her resolution was approved by the Senate Agriculture Committee earlier this month.

“As chair of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee and as a hunter, I am proud to recognize the efforts of this program that has helped over one million Arkansans feed their families,” Lincoln said. “As the number of hungry people continues to rise in Arkansas and across the country, the Hunters Feeding the Hungry program is helping bring food to those most in need and is a wonderful example of neighbors helping neighbors. After my family’s recent deer hunting trip, my sons were able to donate their own game and experience the joy of giving.”

“Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry is truly a collaborative community effort. The program’s success depends on the generosity of our hunters, the cooperation from meat processors and support from local food distribution organizations,” Ronnie Ritter, president of Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry said. “We are on pace for another record year of deer donations and the need this year for high quality nutritious food is also at an all time high.”

“Quality meat products are hard to come by, but with the support of Hunters Feeding the Hungry we are able to take something that might otherwise have been thrown away and use it to feed those in need. Our customers love it. We’ve received 2,500 pounds so far and could handle three times that amount,” Dewey Sims of Fishnet Ministries said. Fishnet Ministries is the largest food pantry in Arkansas, feeding 600 families a week.

Under the Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry program, sportsmen donate game taken duringthe current hunting season to one of 40 participating processors. The processor processes and packages the meat and sends it to a hunger relief organization.

Lincoln is also a co-sponsor of legislation that would provide a tax benefit to sportsmen who donate their processed venison to anti-hunger programs and to processors who participate in venison donation programs.

The program has been in place in Arkansas since 2000. The success of the program depends upon the generosity of hunters to donate venison and other wild game, cooperation from meat processors throughout the state, support from local food distribution organizations, and the financial contributions of businesses and other citizens.

Hunters can donate deer (or a portion of a deer) from this season and help Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry so that the state’s less fortunate can have healthy meals.

Benton County Processing, located at 1805 Waukasha Road, Siloam Springs (479-549-4115) is one of the participating meat processors.

For more information on Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry, check out www.arkansashunters.org.

Sports, Pages 8 on 12/30/2009

Print Headline: Hunters aim to end hunger

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