For several years I have wanted to meet Jeff Schroeder from Jerome, who is the president and executive director of Idaho Hunters Feeding the Hungry. Unfortunately our paths have yet to cross. Whenever I have been in the vicinity of Twin Falls and Jerome, I have been pressed for time on what usually is a 13-hour journey to the Oregon coast. I have got to just find a time to go to Jerome and meet him.
For those who have not heard of Jeff, he and his wife took over the Idaho Hunters Feeding the Hungry program in 2009. Idaho Hunters Feeding the Hungry (IHFH) was organized into seven regions with cooperating food pantries in each region. It took a while to get food pantries in each region working with IHFH to provide donated wildlife meat to the needy in each region. In 2016, IHFH finally obtained a processor and pantry in the Southeast Region.
Chad Giesbrect of Del Monte Meats in Pocatello said hunters can either pay for the processing of their big game and tell Del Monte how much of the meat they want donated to the pantry — which in the Gate City is First Baptist Church at 408 N. Arthur Ave. — or they can pay for the meat they are keeping and have Del Monte invoice the pantry and IHFH for the portion they are donating to the needy.
Here is how the program normally works: Hunters donate meat to cooperating food processors. The processors call and invoice the local IFHF food pantry, who then submit the invoice to IHFH for processing. Once delivered to the food banks and pantries, they distribute the meat to families and individuals in need.
Hunters can pay for the processing and donate the meat to the food banks and pantries, but they should check with IHFH to make sure all regulations are met for the donations. Donated meat must be processed professionally — so, not in your garage — for the food banks and pantries to distribute it to the needy.
There may be some wildlife meat the processors and pantries cannot accept for donation to the needy, such as bear. Be sure to check with IHFH as to what they are allowed to process and donate to those in need.
IHFH estimates that one in seven Idahoans are hungry and need assistance. The need for donations is very real and appreciated by the pantries and food banks in the area.
The people in Idaho have a history of being charitable toward those who need help getting back on their feet through religious organizations and the many programs that exist in most communities to help those in need. Idaho Hunters Feeding the Hungry and their cooperating processors, food banks and pantries are making it possible for hunters to have their surplus wildlife meat professionally processed and distributed to those who need it most.
Please consider helping IHFH achieve their goal of “Transforming Idaho’s wild surplus big game meat into nutritious food for the hungry.” They have a website at ihfh.org.
Smokey Merkley was raised in Idaho and has been hunting since he was 10 years old. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.