Hunters can help ease hunger in McLean County this fall by donating venison to those in need.

For the third year, donations can be made to the McLean County chapter of Hunters for the Hungry, sponsored by Independence Bank and Kentucky Farm Bureau. The donated deer meat will be distributed by God's House of Hope in Island.

Chad Hall, ag lending officer and vice president of Independence Bank in Livermore, said Independence Bank and Farm Bureau help procure donations to cover the cost of processing.

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According to Hall, hunters have to "legally take and tag the deer in season" and have to field dress it. Donations can then be dropped off at McLean County Locker in Calhoun or Beef and Bacon Custom Processing in Beech Grove for the benefit of Hunters for the Hungry.

"They make the donation of the deer, we cover the cost of processing (and) God's House of Hope picks it up and distributes it," Hall said. "It's really a community effort getting protein on people's table."

Hunters for the Hungry, a national initiative, took root in McLean County just three years ago.

"Just in talking to some community members and leaders, we identified an issue with some of our community residents that they were having a hard time getting protein," Hall said of the effort's start.

They knew about Hunters for the Hungry, but there wasn't a chapter in McLean County, so "we decided we would pursue that," he said. The bank approached Farm Bureau to partner.

The first year was "really a trial and error kind of thing" to see if there was interest, Hall said. They had enough, so "we thought, 'let's expand this.' "

Last year, Hall said they processed 37 deer. Approximately 3,700 pounds of donated meat meant more than 9,900 meals at a 6-ounce serving size, he said. It exceeded expectations.

For 2017, they've set a goal of 40 deer and have funding in place for that many, he said. Community members can also make monetary donations to help cover the cost of processing.

"It's a great way to help out your neighbor in McLean County, especially this time of year," Hall said.

Carroll Carter, president of God's House of Hope, said the donations will be put into the senior commodity food boxes and tri-state boxes for families.

The boxes typically include meat and food items such as beef stew, chili or canned chicken, but the donated venison is "just more protein. It helps them out," he said.

"It's just a real big blessing at the food bank," Carroll said. "It's just a big blessing and we look forward to it, (and) I'm sure the people receiving the boxes look forward to it."

For more information, call 270-278-2351.

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