by Arkansas Game and Fish
Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry, in cooperation with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the Craighead County Community Foundation, provided 4,000 packages of Arkansas-sourced venison snack sticks to needy students in the Nettleton and Buffalo Island school districts in Jonesboro.
The donation is an expansion of the Woods to School program, which will provide 50,000 packages of snack sticks to students in 75 Arkansas schools this year.
For more information about Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry and the Woods to School program, call 501-282-0006.
The program is Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry’s newest initiative to help feed families throughout Arkansas with meat donated from hunters. Donated deer taken during urban archery hunts are processed into shelf-stable snack sticks that can be given to children through backpack programs.
The food is placed discreetly in the students’ backpacks, so they can have the nourishment they need during weekends and holidays when school lunches are not available.
“Last year, we were able to provide 20,000 packages of snack sticks to 25 Arkansas schools, but this program has really grown in the last 12 months,” said Ronnie Ritter, director of Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry.
The urban archery hunts used to collect the venison have been established in Arkansas for many years to maintain deer populations at levels where they do not cause a nuisance or hazard to people and do not overpopulate the habitat available for them.
Ralph Meeker, deer program coordinator for Game and Fish, said controlled hunts are the best method to reduce these deer populations.
“Hunters are our first and best tool at managing wildlife populations. Controlled urban hunts offer a safe, inexpensive and unobtrusive way to reduce deer numbers when coordinated with hunter organizations like the Arkansas Bowhunters Association.”
In addition to the Woods to School program, Arkansas hunters provided 88,000 pounds of ground venison to food banks across Arkansas last year thanks to Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry. This created more than 352,000 servings of food for less fortunate individuals and families using meat donated from the last deer season.
“The program benefits everyone involved,” Meeker said. “Hunters get some extra motivation to continue pursuing their sport, we have the added incentive for them to remove enough deer to maintain healthy wildlife populations, and Arkansans in need get protein, which is the hardest thing for food banks to acquire.”