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Louisiana Forces Homeless Shelter To Destroy Meat Donation

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The Louisiana State Health Department forced a homeless shelter to destroy $8,000 worth of venison donated by a hunter organization.

One in eight Americans goes to bed hungry each night, including one in every four children. The number of Americans who are dependent on food stamps has increased by 70% since 2007. While America’s obesity epidemic continues to escalate, so do poverty and hunger issues in this country. With this in mind, I’m extremely disappointed with the Louisiana State Health Department, which forced a homeless shelter to destroy $8,000 worth of venison donated by a hunter organization.

As reported by CBS Houston, “Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission lost 1,600 lbs. of venison because the state’s health department doesn’t recognize Hunters for the Hungry, an organization that allows hunters to donate any extra game to charity.”

A stunned Rev. Henry Martin of the Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission, told KTBS: “We didn’t find anything wrong with it. It was processed correctly, it was packaged correctly.”

And it appears there was absolutely nothing wrong with the condemned meat. It was processed and packaged correctly at a facility licensed and inspected by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture. However, after the Louisiana Department of Health received a complaint that venison was being served at the homeless shelter, an inspector forced shelter volunteers to throw the meat in the dumpster and pour bleach on it. Later, on its Facebook page, the health department claimed “there is no way to verify how the deer were killed, prepared or stored.”

This is an unfortunate story that hurts hungry people in this area; folks who lost the opportunity to enjoy a nourishing protein source -- something that’s often in short supply in many food banks and homeless shelters. Not only that, but it discourages people like me who often donate roasts and hamburger to shelters.

I realize it is difficult to handle perishable items in food banks, but it’s these fresh, whole foods that can offer the best nutrition for those who are living on a limited budget and can’t afford to buy these items themselves.

We can do better, and wasting food is a shame when there are so many who need it. Did you know Americans waste, on average, 40% of their food? It’s unbelievable to me that, as a society, we turn our noses up to leftovers. I’m not saying we all need to be members of the “clean plate club;” after all, I think that’s what is contributing to our obesity problem in the U.S. today, but I do think we need to be mindful of our food usage and waste.

I encourage everyone to continue to donate to your local food bank or homeless shelter. If you are a hunter, there are groups like Sportsmen Against Hunger, which has aligned themselves with food banks. For example, South Dakota’s Sportsmen Against Hunger donated 78,735 lbs. of game meat in 2012. This huge donation included 1,891 deer, 46 antelope, 2,811 pheasants and 2,044 Canadian geese. To date, South Dakota hunters have donated 633,500 lbs. of venison to needy families, which equates to 2,534,000 meals for the hungry.

Another program you should know about it America’s Second Harvest (ASH), which is a network of more than 200 food banks. By donating through ASH, your donation can be tracked and measured to see how it helps fight hunger. 

I feel fortunate to have a freezer full of meat in my house. After reading stories like this one, I certainly won’t take this luxury for granted. There are people in need, and I believe it’s critical to be mindful of those in your community who are in need of a regular decent meal.

Do you donate to food banks? What motivates you to share your blessings with others in your community? Share your thoughts with other BEEF Daily readers, and let’s keep paying our good fortune forward.

Discuss this Blog Entry 12

Anonymous (not verified)
on Mar 5, 2013

Just dumb!!.....

Anonymous (not verified)
on Mar 5, 2013

No suprise, I have tried donating vension and beef numerous times to food shelters here in SW MN and no one will take it. It's too bad, it's a great source of protein and is pretty good eating.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Mar 5, 2013

"we have met the enemy and he is us" or maybe them. Big stupid!! Now those folks can go dumpster diving. (not that one)

Christine Navarre, DVM (not verified)
on Mar 5, 2013

Amanda, I would appreciate if you would clarify your comments with the facts. The inspector did not do this simply from pressure from a person complaining. He was in fact following Louisiana regulations and the shelter was not following regulations. These type of regulations are in place for food safety reasons. We can disagree with the regulations and argue the benefits vs. the risks of hunter donated meat. But there are regional factors that may make it necessary to have different regulations in different states.

John R. Dykers, Jr. (not verified)
on Mar 5, 2013

Do the regulations make sense from a bacteriological perspective OR are they just guild regs to protect the markerpalce?

Brian Hineman (not verified)
on Mar 5, 2013

As a USDA meat inspector and an avid sportsman I can see both sides of the issue. The method of gutting the animal, cleanliness of utensils used in the field to eviscerate the deer cannot be confirmed. Although the shelter may be protected under the " goodwill" conditions of providing food and shelter that would be all for not if someone gets ill and dies from tainted meat. On the other hand, I myself have donated several harvests of venison to local food banks and shelters. If I knew they were going to be thrown out I would think twice about my donation. Maybe contacting the shelter or local churches and asking for a list of families that could use the assistance of harvested meat would eliminate the middle man. Don't be too hard on the Louisiana Dept. of health. I'm sure they hated to see the meat go down as well.

on Mar 5, 2013

The first question we need to ask: Why destroy the meat? Why was the meat not returned to hunters for the hungry?

Anonymous (not verified)
on Mar 5, 2013

It breaks my heart to read this news. There are so many people who would be glad to receive free meat. I understand that the health department was worried about the safety of human consumption but why was it not donated to an animal shelter. Surely there was some place it could have been used beside the dumpster! Heartbreaking, it makes you really want to think twice about helping homeless shelters.

on Mar 5, 2013

Just plain stupid. I know at one time they fed donated venison to school kids in upper Michigan. Those kids grew up in a hunting area and appreciate the meat. I'll bet this inspector is not a hunter. What a tool

John R. Dykers, Jr. (not verified)
on Mar 5, 2013

And lets change the language to fight against malnutrition.
Hungry occassionally helps fight obesity and will go away with a glass of water. Chronic absense of food and subsequent malnutrition are harmful and we need protein, vitamins, minerals, roughage to stay well nourished. The venison would have been a wonderful food. Always harping on hunger makes it sound like an add for cookies!j
johndykersmd@dykers.com

Anonymous (not verified)
on Mar 5, 2013

Sounds like more of the same old politics hard at work!

Anonymous (not verified)
on Mar 19, 2013

I don't understand why the inspectors couldn't have just checked the meat at the homeless shelter to make sure it was safe before they made the unrational decision to throw it all away. I am sure there are ways for food inspectors to test food on site to make sure it is safe for human consumption. When people hear of these types of things happening, it makes them not want to help anyone because they might feel as if their efforts are just a waste of time.

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BEEF Daily Blog is produced by rancher Amanda Radke, one of the U.S. beef industry’s top social media “agvocates.”

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Amanda Radke

A fifth-generation rancher from Mitchell, SD, Amanda grew up on a purebred Limousin cattle operation in which she and husband Tyler are active. She graduated with a degree in agriculture journalism...

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