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Indiana hunters turn passion into charity

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Published: Dec. 1, 2021 at 6:02 PM CST
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - How would you feel if you could do something you love for charity? Some local hunters have been able to do just that.

Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry is an Indiana program that connects these passionate outdoorsmen with deer processors who give donated meat to food pantries.

Tony Rutledge loves to hunt. He turned that love into some extra money by starting his own deer processing business.

10 years ago, Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry approached Rutledge and asked if he would be willing to be a processor for them, taking donated deer from hunters and giving the meat to a local food pantry. It didn’t take long for him to see an impact.

“Talking to the food shelter, the food banks or whatever - they get so excited,” Rutledge, the program’s deer processor in Posey County said. “When they know, when I make that phone call. ‘Hey, I’ve got some deer out here for you.’ They’re awful interested in that and excited.”

At the Cross Mission in Mount Vernon gets the meat that Rutledge processes, which is something they are grateful for.

“It just makes a world of difference for the community to step in and get behind us and help us,” Myers Hyman, who helps run At the Cross Mission said.

During this time of year, the mission provides about 65-85 meals a night, and if they don’t have enough food for the meals, the mission has to buy it. They say meat can eat up their limited budget fast.

“I was sticker-shocked the other day and saw the prices of meat and said, ‘You’ve gotta be kidding me,’” Hyman said.

Rutledge says one deer can provide around 40-50 pounds of meat, and 50 pounds of meat can provide around 200 meals for those in need. In a year, Rutledge says he usually processes around 30-40 donated deer.

One of the hunters who donate through Rutledge says it benefits everyone, including farmers and landowners who get the deer off their land.

“They’re happy, so it benefits the farmer because it helps with his crops. It puts meat in my freezer, and then it feeds the hungry,” Rev. Allen Rutherford said. “For me, I call it a ministry.”

The program enables Indiana hunters to make their favorite pastime into something more.

Rutledge says last year, the program contributed around 38,000 pounds of meat to food banks across the state. This year, their goal is 50,000 pounds.

For those interested in learning more about Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry or interested in donating, click here.

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