Organization offer help to area’s hungry
County resident coordinates group of hunters who donate deer meat
It's a way for hunters to hunt and the hungry to eat.
It's Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry.
¢ The FHFH Web site address is: www.fhfh.org
The charity organization started in 1997 when its founder, Rick Wilson, spotted a woman along a Virginia highway. She was loading her car's trunk with a deer that had been struck by a car. She told him she and her children would field dress the deer and use the meat for meals.
That's when Wilson decided to start an organization in which hunters, meat processing plants and charities would work together to provide food for people who are hungry. Since then, FHFH has spread to 36 states, including Kansas.
And the Kansas FHFH coordinator is Tony DeRossett, who lives between Tonganoxie and Basehor.
Recently, DeRossett and two of his cousins, Adam Pack and Nick Budy, Kansas City, Kan., delivered 200 pounds of ground deer meat to Tonganoxie's Good Shepherd Thrift Shop and Food Pantry.
In 2001, DeRossett learned about FHFH through a magazine article. Not only is the program beneficial in feeding the hungry, DeRossett said. It also helps reduce deer-auto collisions, crop damage, and helps to manage deer herds.
Through the article he learned of two Kansans interested in starting an FHFH affiliation. He contacted them and they agreed to work together.
In its first year in Kansas, organizers hoped hunters would donate at least 10 deer. But 180 deer were donated. That left organizers scrambling to process the deer and distribute the meat. But costs outweighed their bank balance. Fortunately, a business learned of their plight and donated $10,000.
The next year, DeRossett said, they added a few more processors and thought they'd stay on top, financially.
But Kansas hunters donated 418 deer.
"We ended up $10,000 in the hole," DeRossett said.
They tightened restrictions in 2003, limiting processing fees and the number of deer processors could distribute. In all, 217 deer were donated.
"We were able to manage with that," DeRossett said.
Then in 2004, he said, the Legislature passed a bill in which people could donate $2 when buying a hunting or fishing license. The money helped and in 2004, hunters donated 432 deer. DeRossett said the program grew in 2005, with 542 deer, an elk and a buffalo donated.
"Each deer roughly feeds about 200 meals, so you're talking about, with the elk and the buffalo, around 130,000 to 150,000 meals to local Kansans," DeRossett said.
The project makes sense, DeRossett said. It makes the most of hunter-harvested meat that might otherwise have gone unused -- and unappreciated. Hunters are allowed to get up to eight tags, depending on where they are in the state, DeRossett said.
"Most hunters are only going to eat one or two of them for their family," DeRossett said. "This gives them an outlet for their additional meat."
And, hunting outfitters are among those who've donated.
"The guys that come in from out of town who are simply hunting for big antlers -- and they don't want to take the rest of the deer home," DeRossett said.
And, while FHFH accepts deer from state and federal agencies, they don't accept roadkill.