One deer equals about 200 meals.
To Chester Palmer, who heads up a food distribution program that operates out of the First Baptist Church in Quapaw, Okla., that’s a lot of meat.
“Right now, we’re helping an average of 65 families once a month, and we try to get some meat somewhere so we can have it all the time, but most times people donate canned vegetables or maybe tuna,” Palmer said.
So whenever he learns from Wade Payne, owner of the Columbus, Kan., meat locker, that a deer has been donated, processed and is ready in 2-pound packages, he’s relieved.
“We just go on donations from people in the church, which has about 75 people, and that limits us,” Palmer said.
Similar stories are playing out across Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma each deer hunting season. In Kansas, the nonprofit organization Kansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry in 2011 provided 1,038 deer — or nearly 225,000 meals — through 100 food banks across the state.
Payne’s meat locker has participated in the program for six years.
“We probably had 30 deer donated already this year,” Payne said. “When it’s processed, it stays pretty much local, within at least 35 or 40 miles. Churches can sign for it and pick it up for food pantries.”
Wildlife officials estimate that during the 12-day Kansas firearm deer season, which this year ran from Nov. 28 to Dec. 9, more than 50,000 deer may have been harvested. In some areas of the state, hunters can obtain permits to harvest up to five antlerless white-tailed deer, in addition to their permit to harvest either gender. While additional harvests help stabilize and control the deer population, some hunters don’t want or need more than one or two deer in the freezer.
Enter Kansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry. It was founded in 2001 when Tony DeRossett, a mail carrier and hunter in Tonganoxie, read about an effort in Maryland that allowed hunters to donate the meat to lockers for distribution to food pantries. He contacted the Maryland program for advice on getting started, met with Kansas wildlife officials and began with a team of two volunteers.
“We signed up about 12 meat lockers to work with us, with a goal of maybe getting 10 deer donated,” DeRossett said. “It costs $65 to have a deer processed. We had to raise money to pay for it and couldn’t believe we got 180 deer that first year.”
The organization now works with 42 meat lockers and 160 food pantries across Kansas, with the greatest concentration in the eastern two-thirds of the state. The biggest challenge, DeRossett said, remains funding.
“We use every imaginable way you can beg for money,” he said. “Most comes in through grants and church groups, and companies also donate.”
In 2003, legislation was passed to allow the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism to collect donations of $2 or more for the organization when hunters and anglers buy licenses.
More than 1,000 deer have been contributed annually for the past four years, with the cost for deer processing coming in at $72,000 a year. The organization has no administrative costs.
“We’re supplying 230,000 meals every year,” DeRossett said. “Cumulatively, we’re about 1.3 million meals.”
He said that when he began working with the Greenwood County food pantry, he was told that in seven years, the sole meat donation was a side of beef.
“Meat’s expensive, it spoils, and people just don’t donate it,” he said.
Ultimately, DeRossett said, his organization would like to push for a legal means for harvesting deer outside of deer season.
“We would love to be supplying meat throughout the year,” he said.
Participating meat lockers may be found online at www.kshfh.org. The meat lockers must be licensed and inspected, and there is a great deal of regulation to ensure that quality meat is being distributed.
There is no cost for hunters to donate deer, as long as the nonprofit organization has sufficient funding to cover the processing expense. Donated game must be field dressed and legally tagged. Hunters also may donate just a portion of the meat they are having processed.
The regular firearm season in Kansas ended Dec. 9. An extended firearm season limited to antlerless white-tailed deer opens Jan. 1 and runs through Jan. 13. An extended archery season for antlerless white-tailed deer runs from Jan. 14-31. A special extended firearm season for antlerless white-tailed deer runs from Jan. 14-20 in units 7 and 8 in north-central Kansas and unit 15 in south-central Kansas.
One deer equals about 200 meals.
- Local News
Prairie State Park kicks off Earth Day events
Prairie State Park began celebrating Earth Day early with an event Saturday that provided a chance for people of all ages to learn more about how they can protect the environment.
Joplin Catholic schools to hold annual spring auction
The Joplin Area Catholic Schools spring auction will be staged Saturday at the Jack Lawton Webb Convention Center, 5300 S. Range Line Road in Joplin.
Wally Kennedy: Another pizza choice and ice cream on the way
A new pizza restaurant is coming to the northwest corner of Stone’s Corner in the Village of Airport Drive. Piez is opening this week in a storefront that formerly housed Quincy Magoo’s, 6039 N. Main Street Road, which has been closed for more than two years.
Mike Pound: No more hiding Easter eggs or emotions
Well, that’s a wrap on the Easter egg hunts. For about 15 years we have staged not one, but two Easter egg hunts for our now 16-year-old daughter, Emma.
VIDEO: Cancer patient walks down aisle in wedding thrown by friends
A year ago, Schandera Jordan was diagnosed with a rare form cervical cancer. And months after a radical hysterectomy, doctors confirmed the worst: The cancer had spread to her lungs and pancreas.
SLIDE SHOW: Teen with cystic fibrosis finds widespread support
When the Nevada Show Choir performs its spring show on stage, it’s impossible to pick out the student with cystic fibrosis because there are no outward clues.
Gabby Gire, 18, is just another performer. She sings, she dances, she smiles for the audience.
Enrollment open for Joplin summer school
Enrollment is now open for the Joplin school district’s summer school session, which will run Wednesday, June 4, though Tuesday, July 1.
Funding shortfall could hinder public transportation in Southeast Kansas
For the past two years, Pittsburg State University sophomore Travis Cook has been using public transportation to get to and from his classes. He began using the bus his freshman year, when he didn’t have a vehicle to drive even to the grocery store — which is said to be the case for many who use the service.
Bruner denied change of venue for murder trial
Circuit Judge Gayle Crane has denied a change of venue for a defendant charged with fatally shooting an assistant football coach at Missouri Southern State University. The attorney for Jeffrey Bruner claimed pretrial publicity as the reason for seeking a change of venue in Jasper County Circuit Court.
Russell family sues city, Joplin police
Family members of a teenage girl whose suicide a year ago brought them into conflict with police officers and emergency medical technicians are suing the city and the Joplin Police Department. Kevin and Julissa Russell and their son, Brant Russell, are the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed in Jasper County Circuit Court. The action filed on the Russells’ behalf by Kansas City attorney Andrew Protzman names the city, the Police Department and Officers Austin Wolf and Tyler Christensen as defendants.
- More Local News Headlines
- Prairie State Park kicks off Earth Day events