By Danielle Nason
Here in Libby and Troy, Montana we are blessed to live in a beautiful state with soaring eagles and endless skies. Another thing we have is a great abundance of wildlife and game roaming the land.
Through the Hunters Against Hunger food bank program, we have an opportunity to give back to the community and the amazing people that are our friends, family and neighbors. It only takes one person to make a difference in the lives of many.
“Montana hunters have a love for the sport and don’t always need the meat. However, a lot of Montanans do need the meat. It is very special to them. Any donated game meat is going to someone in need and who truly appreciates both the sport and the donation. When a hunter puts in for a permit, they can make a contribution for Hunters Against Hunger,” said Gayle Carlson, CEO of the Montana Food Bank Network.
The Montana Food Bank Network (MFNB) has been feeding Montana since 1983. Their vision is a Montana free from hunger where everyone has equal access to nutritious food.
The Hunters Against Hunger Food Bank Program (HAH) has taken over across Montana in the past few years. Legislation in 2013 authorized hunters to make a $1 or more donation into this fund when purchasing their game tags. The HAH program also takes donations of legally harvested big game during the hunting season (with attached tags). The program allows hunters to donate a portion or all of their harvested game animals to be processed (at an authorized processor) free of charge. When meat is donated, it is processed and distributed to those in need through the local food bank outreach programs in that community.
The cost of processing the meat is offset by the donations made when purchasing licenses. This year the program received $85,000 in donations from hunters.
The amazing part of this program is that it is run on the generosity of hunters, both in Montana and hunters buying licenses from out of the state. The fees are collected by Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, then allocated and used exclusively, for this program. There is no impact on the state budget and 100% of donations go towards game processing.
In 2017,150,000 pounds of wild game was processed with partnering agencies throughout Montana. Participation by local meat processors and hunters are the key to success and program growth.
The HAH program currently distributes food from Heron to Wibaux, Eureka to West Yellowstone but has not been setup in Libby or Troy. The feeding program works with neighborhood food banks, community pantries, social organizations, homeless shelters, schools, and others.
How can we get the Hunter Against Hunger program in south Lincoln County?
The HAH program would like to include any state certified and licensed game processors that are willing to process meat for the program. The HAH will reimburse processors up to $2 per pound of processed meat once an invoice is submitted.
The HAH program does not process road kill for sanitary and safety reasons. Even if you are not a hunter, you can call and donate financially. If any local processor, food bank or pantry would like to sign up, please contact Eric Luongo at 406-215-1776.
A full list of authorized processors can be found at the Montana Food Bank Network website at mfbn.org. Contact the office between 8am -5pm (mountain time) at 406-721-3825. Contact email is email@example.com
Photo of little spike in downtown Libby. Photo by Danielle Nason, The Montanian.