BOISE - With the holidays just around the corner, many of you may be giving back to the community by donating to your local food pantries. While we're used to donating canned and non-perishable food items, some may want to donate excess meat from the hunting season.
Local food banks see the need for food firsthand, and while they love getting donations of any kind, they want to make sure people are informed - especially when it comes to wild game. Because if the rules aren't followed, the food banks can't accept the meat.
Mike Keckler with Idaho Fish & Game says a Proxy Statement, which is used when hunters transport wild game after it's been shot, is also used for making donations. On the form you can circle the species like Elk or Mule Deer. There are also spaces to fill out a description of the animal, and where and when the animal was killed. Then, you will give the statement to the other hunter or the food bank you're donating to.
Keckler says this Proxy Statement is all about making sure there's a paper trail from the hunter to the food bank and to make sure the animal was killed legally.
"We want to make sure that we know who harvested the animal and the person in possession, whether it be another person or a food bank, is able to show us who harvested the animal," said Keckler.
When it comes to accepting big game, local food banks like the Boise Rescue Mission have rules of their own. If you'd like to make a donation you need to take the meat to an approved meat processing plant where it will be cut, packaged, and stamped with FDA approval.
"We need to make sure that it goes through a meat-processing plant just so we know that it's been handled and packaged and is safe to serve to our guests," said Jason Billester with the Boise Rescue Mission.
If the meat hasn't been approved through the proper channels, Billester says they can't accept it because safety if their first priority.
An organization called the Idaho Hunters Feeding the Hungry has a list on their website of food pantries they work with, as well as places where excess meat can be packaged and processed. They also break down meat acceptance guidelines and food safety procedures.