The Alabama Chapter’s Sportsmen Against Hunger Committee was inactive for several years. Prior to the 2015-2016 hunting seasons, the committee was reactivated with a major focus on funneling donated game meat into various food banks and shelters.
The greatest need for all food distribution charities is the protein provided by fresh meat. Venison and other game meats not only provide this essential protein but are also a low fat and delicious addition to the usual canned food fare distributed by hunger organizations.
Many SCI members have long been generous in giving both fresh bagged game and surplus frozen meat to individuals and families in Alabama and around the world. Our committee has also attempted to learn about and record these donations.
Each year, hundreds of families benefit from these direct gifts of game. During the 2015-2016 hunting seasons we recorded direct donations made by 14 Alabama Chapter members. This number has grown each year. In the 2019-2020 seasons, over 30 Alabama SCI hunters reported direct game donations.
A primary focus of our committee has been to build a network of hunters and deer processors to provide frozen venison burger to various shelters and food banks. Since 2015, at least a dozen different hunger organizations have received the frozen burger packages from the Alabama Chapter.
Many of these charities are based in the Birmingham and North Alabama area. However, our most successful effort has been in support of the Selma Area Food Bank. This organization serves a three-county area, with one of the highest poverty levels and food deficit rates in the entire nation. We have worked to encourage hunting clubs and individual hunters in Southwest Alabama to donate harvested deer to an SCI participating deer processor.
Individual SCI members typically pay the processing fee for the deer they donate. Our Chapter pays the processing fee for all other deer that any hunter is willing to donate to the program. From December of 2015 through February of 2020, our program has channeled over 10,000 pounds of processed venison burger to the Selma Area Food Bank. Food Bank manager Jeff Harrison estimates that in this five-year period, our venison packages were part of over 5,000 meals for at least 400 families.
This 10,000 pounds is the donation to the Selma Area Food Bank alone. At least 5,000 additional pounds have been directly donated by SCI members to either deer processors or in the form of whole unprocessed animals to individuals. The committee estimates poundage derived from whole deer based on the members’ guess of the animal’s live weight.
The committee’s goal for each year is to increase the number of participating members. We urge members to notify us by email to firstname.lastname@example.org of any and all game animals or meat donated anywhere in Alabama, any other state, or around the world. This includes not just deer, but any game that is given to anyone.
If you email regarding a whole animal donation, please specify the animal species and estimated live weight. Wild hogs are often shot as nuisance animals and the carcasses are wasted. We are working to get more of this high-quality pork into our program as more deer processors are now willing to process hogs. Please consider supporting our program and email or call with any questions.
We now live in a time where hunting’s popularity is in decline and where hunters’ morals and ethics are under constant critical scrutiny. The Alabama Chapter’s Sportsmen Against Hunger Committee and SCI’s worldwide Humanitarian Services programs represent the very best traditions of our forefathers’ “hunter-gatherer” culture.
Anything and everything we bag becomes food for someone. Whether it be in South Alabama or South Africa, this food source provided by hunters is crucial to the well-being of a large undernourished population. As hunters and as Safari Club International members, we should all take pride and promote this time-honored image.–Bruce Canoles