Sportsman's Pantry

Donate A Deer And Feed The Hungry

Its as easy as that. Step up and make a difference.

There is a program that now, in its fourth season, is beginning to gain real traction and it is a winner for sportsmen processors and our communities.

The program is called Sportsman's Pantry, and it functions under the oversight of four sportsman's groups, GON Network, Georgia Hunting & Fishing Federation, SafariClub International, and Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry.

But the groups are not the important story here. The real story is sportsmen like you finding a way to do what we all want done, and doing it better than it has ever been done before in Georgia, and doing it where you live and hunt.

The aim of the program is to bring together three groups at the local level. Those groups are:

 hunters willing do donate a deer to those in need,
 processors will do the work at a reduced price, and
 local approved charities who can accept the processed venison.

This program offers a number of benefits to everyone. For the hunter, there is a place local to him where deer can be donated. The local community is aware that the community is benefitting from sportsmen directly in fewer deer to dodge, and that deserving folks in their community are eating better because of sportsmen. Sportsmen shine.

Processors benefit because hunters bring them more deer and because once the deer is processed, it does not linger in the processor's freezer for very long at all. The local charity picks up the venison within a day or two.

That is because each processor is linked with a local charity that is on-call to come and get the venison as soon as it is ready.

And each charity benefits because they get a direct infusion of the best meat protein available without having to travel long distances to one of the five food banks in Georgia, and they don't have to pay for the venison. Typically, each food bank does charge a very modest price for meat purchased by the local charities.

When the processor needs the charity to collect venison, the processor just calls them. When the charity collects the venison, they alert Sportsman's Pantry HQ as to the amount of venison collected and a check is cut to that processor-typically $1 per pound of venison (some processors donate all, or a portion of their labor, so in some cases the cost to the Sportsman's Pantry is zero).

The goal is to have deer donated, processed and consumed locally.

Under the old state-supported program, neither the sportsman nor the processor knew where the venison was consumed. And the charity never knew where the venison came from.

Now there is a personal, flesh-and-blood local connection in those communities.

Included here is the preliminary list of processors accepting donations and their locations.

While this number of processors already exceeds the number of locations the old program ever had, like its predecessor, it remains an embarrassingly small number of participating processors.

But that number is growing.

The key to growth is funding. Most processors can't afford to process 20-40 deer per year for free. And even when they ask the program for $1 per pound, that processor still needs to be supported with a budget of $1,000 to $2,000 per season.

For the Sportsman's Pantry to come to your area, you need to hold a fund-raiser. Some fund-raisers are as simple as one person writing one check... $20 or $200, both help and you can designate the county where the funds must be used.

Additionally fund-raising events, like car washes and sportsmen's banquets, etc., can be non-profit-sanctioned if you run the event through one of the groups overseeing it.

Experience has shown us that local people are best equipped to handle local projects, and the primary function of the four groups is simply to facilitate the event, given the events goal and the tax-exempt status of the four organizations.

One recent fund-raiser came from the operator of the Huddle Houses in Lakeland and Homerville where a portion of the proceeds of sales that day was donated to the Sportsmen's Pantry program. That donation will produce 275 pounds of venison. The way the state calculates impact for their program (one pound equals five meals) that donation alone will feed 1,375 people. This is catching on as the McDonald's in LaFayette, GA will host the GHFF fishing simulator Thursday October 25 from 5pm til 7pm with 20% of the food and drink sales going to support the Sportsman Pantry in that area.

Would you like to help? It does not matter if you are a sportsman, a deer processor or a charity looking for venison, contact us if you are willing to work. Together, this program can grow very quickly.

If you would like to be a part of this program, the primary contact is by email at sportsmanpantry@gh-ff.org. Just send a note about who you are, where you are, and what you would like to do. Someone will contact you and begin to connect you with people like you who want to make this happen in your area.

Meanwhile, included here is a list of the processors already on board and funded. Sportsmen can donate venison at these processors until the funds to cover these processor's deer donations are exhausted.

Sportsman Pantry already distributed over 1000lbs of venison see story at GON

Sportsman Pantry already distributed over 1000lbs of venison see story at GON

Sportsman's Pantry Processors

Sportsman's Pantry
1. Crane's Taxidermy & Processing 3960 Southside Drive Acworth 770-974-4659
2. Wilkes Meats 5515 Bannister Road Cumming 770-889-8839
3. Wildlife Reflections Processing 2381 Highway 36 East Jackson 404-569-7173
4. Newborn Taxidermy 4227 Highway 142 Newborn 770-786-3350
5. Hick's Deer Processing 1108 Crawford-Smithonia Road Crawford 706-743-3137
6. Scotty's Deer Barn 358 Norristown-Covena Road Swainsboro 478-668-4572
7. The Butcher Shop 330 Church Street Lakeland 229-482-3510
8. K&K Deer & Wild Hog Processing 6749 Good Hope Road Naylor 229-269-5557
9. Wise Brothers Deer Processing 326 Bush Road Savannah 912-920-9455
10. Towson Cold Storage 301 South Ridge Avenue Tifton 229-382-1515
11. Zoller's Deer Processing 1123 Indigo Road Springfield 912-213-3012
12. Horton's Deer Processing 620 Chester Thomas Road Springfield 912-754-9791
13. Merritt's Deer Processing 2616 Yellow Brick Road Douglas 912-384-6955
14. Sirmans Hardware & Outdoors 136 South Valdosta Highway Lakeland 229-563-4656

Sportsman's Pantry is a charitable option for local hunters this year

Pastor Jim Powell of Harbor Lights Baptist Church in LaFayette picking up 50 lbs of venison from the Walker County Sportsman's Pantry

Pastor Jim Powell of Harbor Lights Baptist Church in LaFayette picking up 50 lbs of venison from the Walker County Sportsman's Pantry. This was Walker County's first donation this past October.

Walker County sportsmen and women have a new option this year for dealing with an excess of game: give it to charity

The Northwest Georgia Chapter of the Georgia Hunting and Fishing Federation is helping to jumpstart a local division of a Sportsman's Pantry, a surplus game donation project in conjunction with the Safari Club International of Georgia and Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry.

Hunters this upcoming season who have more game than their larders will hold are invited to donate their unwanted venison to the Sportsman's Pantry, which provides processing of the game and distribution to local food banks in need.

Currently, the only local processor participating is LaFayette Wild Game Processing, located at 3492 Trion Highway in LaFayette. Hunters who wish to participate are asked to drop their surplus game at that location.

For more information on the Sportsman's Pantry, contact Walker County GHFF president Bill Evitt at 423-504-6012 or email billevitt@gh-ff.org Those interested in joining the GHFF are invited to attend the regular monthly meeting, which takes place the first Monday evening of each month at Choo Choo BBQ Restaurant in LaFayette at 6pm.

-by Christi McEntyre-

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