By MIRANDA BAINES
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
A few more people in Edgecombe County will have meat at their dinner table this holiday season, thanks to a “North Carolina Hunters for the Hungry” program.
“It’s an ideal project for our rural community who don’t have the access or the money to get all the protein they need,” said Bert Pitt. He and his wife Gwen are the owners of Pitt Family Farm in Edgecombe County.
Ten hunters harvested eight deer on the farm during the hunt, which began Thanksgiving weekend. No deer were harvested the weekend of Dec. 6-8, due to inclement weather.
The venison was taken to George Flowers Processing in Sims and the St. Lewis Ruritan Club delivered the processed meat to two ministries that provide food for the needy — Tarboro Community Outreach and Regeneration Development Group.
“It’s just another avenue of feeding people. Food and fiber is what farming is there for and has been for generations,” Gwen Pitt said, adding that one of the stipulations they placed on hosting the hunt was that the venison be brought back to Edgecombe County to help people.
Farmers Manage Deer Project Manager Guy Gardner, with the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, said one deer could provide about 160 meals.
“There’s about 40 pounds of meat on average for a deer,” he said.
“North Carolina and Louisiana lead the nation in the number of children under 5 who don’t have a consistent source of quality food,” said Judy Gardner, also a Farmers Manager Deer Project Manager. “This is an abundant resource available within the community.”
Regeneration Development Group member Suzanne Craig estimated Regeneration received 100 pounds of venison, which will go toward feeding the 75 to 125 families that receive assistance from the food bank every month.
“The food bank has not had a whole lot of meats lately. This will be a protein to add to our list,” Craig said.
She said Regeneration has given out food to needy families in the community at Deliverance Temple in Pinetops the third Tuesday of every month since Hurricane Floyd.
Tarboro Community Outreach (TCO) received a donation of about 150 pounds of venison.
“It’s a gift. I’m glad that they were mindful that we are here,” TCO Director Sister Mary Ann Czaja said. She said meat is a “limited commodity” and the No. 1 food item that people asking for assistance request.
TCO operates a soup kitchen five days a week and cook Johnnie Speight said he plans to mix the
venison with hamburger and sausage and serve it with spaghetti. He estimated he could serve
1,000 meals using the venison.
“It feeds a lot of people and it helps me out in the kitchen. A lot of people benefit from this all the way around,” Speight said. “I see more people that I normally wouldn’t see in our soup kitchen area … Jobs are hard to find in our area. Unemployment is high.”
Along with feeding the hungry, Gwen Pitt said the deer drive also promoted collaboration between farmers and hunters.
“I think it’s great. It’s an opportunity for hunters to get introduced to farmers,” said Shawn Huber, a hunter from Johnston County. “It’s been good to get out to the different communities, as well.”
“Along with the hunters that it brought in, it also gave our local hunters an opportunity to donate,” Gwen Pitt said.
Hunters seeking additional information about the program should contact Guy and Judy Gardner at (919) 552-9449.