Hunters who harvest elk, deer, antelope or moose in the Big Horn Basin now have an opportunity to easily donate their harvest to local food pantries as part of the Food from the Field program.
Wyoming’s First Lady’s Hunger Initiative launched Food from the Field as a pilot project in 2020 to streamline game donations to local food pantries statewide. The program has the power to make a significant impact on the level of food insecurity that exists in Wyoming.
In the Big Horn Basin, Wapiti Valley Meats west of Cody and Paintrock Processing near Hyattville are now accepting big game animals from hunters who want to donate their harvest.
To donate, a hunter can take their harvest directly to the processor. Wapiti Valley Meats will accept donations of whole or partial big game animals and Paintrock Processing will accept whole big game animals from hunters. Hunters are asked to pay $45 towards the cost of processing; Wyoming Hunger Initiative will cover the remaining cost.
As part of the program, all deer, elk and moose will undergo chronic wasting disease testing prior to entering the food bank system.
Wyoming Hunger Initiative is the official initiative of First Lady Jennie Gordon and is governed by the Board of Directors of the Wyoming Governor’s Residence Foundation, a nonprofit organization.
Last year, 3,791 pounds of game was donated, equating to 7,582 meals for Wyoming neighbors in need. For more information, visit www.nohungerwyo.org/field.
Powell Valley Loaves and Fishes also accepts donated game meat, which must be professionally processed.
“Some hunters only do it just for the sport — they don’t want the meat,” said Cindy Balderas with Loaves and Fishes. “… We appreciate the fact that they want to contribute their wild game to us.”
While the food pantry doesn’t require hunters to pay for processing the meat, Balderas said it can be quite expensive for the nonprofit to cover the cost.
Loaves and Fishes usually has donated meat processed into hamburger, rather than steaks or roasts, to get more meat.
The Powell nonprofit requires all donated food to be professionally processed, so they cannot accept garden vegetables or home-canned foods.
“We can’t take the liability of accepting food that hasn’t been professionally processed,” Balderas said.
Hunters planning to donate game meat to Loaves and Fishes are asked to call in advance to let pantry leaders know, so they can make arrangements and ensure freezer space is available. For more information, call pantry food coordinators Jim Wysocki at 307-754-0299 or Sharon Bailey at 307-754-4543.
(Tessa Baker contributed reporting.)