Here’s a shocking statistic. In Georgia 27.9% of children under the age of 18 need food assistance. That’s every third child you see on the street. That’s 725,000 children in Georgia. The problem is not indigency or homelessness. 36% of households that receive assistance from a food bank in the state have someone working full-time. And it’s not enough. These
“Georgia’s working poor are hungry,” said Danah Craft, Executive Director of the Georgia Food Bank Association. “It’s really an extraordinary time and Georgia’s food banks are being relied on for more than just emergency assistance. People are depending on this to survive.”
Programs like the Georgia Wildlife Federation’s and Georgia Food Bank Association’s Hunters for the Hungry play a vital role in feeding the swiftly-growing number of food insecure families in Georgia. For 18 years this partnership (with the support of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources) has highlighted the best of Georgia hunters’ tradition of generosity. There are many reasons to hunt, but there are none more noble than to feed those in need.
Because of an untimely funding shortage, this year the program is relying Georgia hunters even more than ever. These are difficult times for many families around the state, but we cannot allow those who are suffering to fall further into the cycle of poverty.
Georgia hunters donated more than 25,000 pounds of venison last year, but even more is needed. Food banks in Georgia have seen 30-35% increases for the last two years. The persistently high unemployment rate in Georgia ensures that this increase in demand is likely to continue. Georgia hunters and the Georgia Hunters for the Hungry program provide the most difficult thing for food banks to stock: protein. Necessary at almost every meal and even more crucial to children and the elderly, the protein provided through the Georgia Hunters for the Hungry and Drop-Back-A-Pack programs fills an essential dietary need.
“Protein is the most important and most difficult thing for us to get,” said Craft. “It’s expensive to buy and people need some at almost every meal. The venison we get from Georgia’s hunters is really important. The agencies love it and many will make a special trip when they hear it is in to come get it. It rarely stays in the food banks more than a day and a half.”
Due to the lack of funding, this year’s program will not be able to pay for the processing of whole deer. At our 12 participating processors around the state, we are accepting donations as part of the Drop-Back-A-Pack program where you may leave a portion of your processed deer at the processor to be donated to food banks in Georgia. Please be generous this year in the portions you leave behind! Click here to view a list of the processors in Georgia.
In preparation for next year, the Georgia Wildlife Federation is accepting donations specifically for the Hunters for the Hungry program. (It costs about $50 to process each deer.) Donations may be mailed to the Georgia Wildlife Federation or made online at our website.
Photo: Patrons of a Georgia food bank last Thanksgiving. Photo courtesy Angelina Bellebuono.