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Food bank starts game processing program again

| October 27, 2021 1:00 AM

North Valley Food Bank is starting its wild game processing program now that the hunting season has begun.

The food bank has updated its processing protocols. Only legally and ethically harvested deer, elk, wild bison, moose, and antelope will be accepted. Animals must be gutted in a timely manner and held at a safe temperature. If gut-shot, the animal must be cleaned properly. The food bank prefers to receive animals that have been quartered already.

The food bank cannot accept roadkill from the public.

In addition, the food bank requires that all deer and elk be tested for chronic wasting disease.. Hunters, who would like to drop off an animal, must bring a validated carcass tag and CWD testing ID number.

The food bank participates in the Hunters Against Hunger program of the Montana Food Bank Network. The MFBN and FWP run the statewide program, in which hunters who legally harvest wild game can donate all or part of their meat to feed hungry Montanans. Anyone who purchases a Montana hunting license has the opportunity to make an on-the-spot donation to Hunters Against Hunger to help with processing and distribution costs.

At the food bank, donated animals will be processed by a team of wild game processing volunteers and the MFBN will reimburse up to $3 per pound for finished grind.

Lauren Jarrold, Director of Operations at the food bank says high-quality protein like wild game can be expensive and unattainable for some.

“In a culture where meat is an essential component of our daily diet and hunting is a tradition, we are proud to facilitate the processing and distribution of wild game,” she said. “We greatly appreciate the local hunters, local FWP personnel, and our volunteer processing team who help us provide nutrient-rich meat for our customers.”

The food bank aims to process 15 to 20 animals throughout the winter.

The food bank is also looking for someone with experience to oversee processing. The contracted position is hourly paid and perfect for an experienced hunter who is looking for extra income, the food bank notes.

For hunters dropping off game at the food bank or those with questions should contact Lauren Jarrold at lauren@northvalleyfoodbank.org, or 406-862-5863, press 2.