Hunters Donate Funds for Food Banks - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Hunters Donate Funds for Food Banks

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MISSOULA -

A new state law allows Montanans to donate money when they buy a hunting license, which will help food banks pay to process wild game.

Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials said for years, hunters have donated commercially processed wild game to food banks through the Hunters Against Hunger program.

Now, the new option to donate money will help food banks process meat themselves. 

CEO of the Montana Food Bank Network, Gayle Gifford, said it can cost hundreds of dollars to butcher and package big game.

"Some pantries just don't have the budget for that, so they can't accept it."

To help combat that need, a bill was passed during this year's legislative session, allowing Montana hunters to donate $1 or more when they buy a license or permit.

"People have been donating wild game to food banks for years, but what's been missing as part of that is a way to pay for that processing," said Vivica Crowser, of Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

Crowser said the funds collected during this hunting season, will be dispersed to food banks and similar nonprofits next year.

"And we've had a number of donations here at the office, and I know a lot more are donating across the state as well," Crowser said.

Gifford said Montana is often visited by out-of-staters who hunt simply for the experience.

"And they don't necessarily need the meat, and why put it to waste when there's families out here who would love to have it."

People who use the food bank usually can't afford to go hunting themselves, and Gifford says many miss out on the chance to eat big game.

Gifford added, "There's a lot of additional costs involved into it, and as well as a lot of people who are seniors or disabled are unable to afford that."

Gifford said deer and elk meat is high in nutrients and protein, making it somewhat of a luxury item among families in need.

"So, getting some wild game is pretty precious for them, and they really do look forward to this time of the year when they can get that donation in their food box," she said.

Montana Food Bank Network officials said food banks can only accept commercially processed wild game meats.

To find out more information on the Hunters Against Hunger program, click here.

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