Hunters Told Not To Give To The Needy

Friday, October 26th 2007, 3:13 pm
By: News On 6

For years, local hunters have donated the deer meat they don't eat for a good cause. Now, a Collinsville butcher says the Tulsa County Health Department is shooting down the program. The News On 6’s Ashli Sims reports that some hunters have set their sights on fighting hunger by using their hobby to help provide food for the needy. They say it works. The health department says it should stop.

Just last week, 15-year-old Randy Rogers bagged his first deer, during youth deer season. The nine-point, 168-pounder isn't just a trophy, it's dinner for months.

"Ya know our son hunts all the time and this is gonna fill our freezer up. And that's the first thing I thought of, donating the meat, because I know Rick does that,” said Randy’s mom, Michelle Rogers.

Rick's Custom Processing in Collinsville is part of a statewide program called "Hunters Against Hunger." Hunters, who kill more than they plan to eat, can bring the deer here. For a small donation, Rick will process the deer and give the meat to the hungry.

"They was all real happy and real thankful. Some of ‘em don't get to eat much meat. This way, it's right at Christmas time or Thanksgiving and it helps them. This way they can get a decent meal,” said Rick Hall of Rick’s Custom Processing.

But, Hall says the good deed may have to end.

"The Tulsa County Health Department says it's against the law because it's not USDA inspected meat. So, therefore, that means that I'm not supposed to give to nobody in the public,” said Rick Hall of Rick’s Custom Processing.

Tulsa County Health Department officials say they appreciate the effort. But, when the slaughter of the animal isn't inspected, there's risk of food-borne illness. And, that's why the law says custom processers can only supply meat to the people who bring in the deer.

"It's a waste. And, there's nothing wrong with the meat. It's run through my plant. My plant is inspected by state and federal. And, there's no sense in not being able to give this meat to the public,” said Rick Hall of Rick’s Custom Processing.

Michelle Rogers is walking away with a freezer full and she thinks those in need shouldn't be left empty-handed.

"The next deer he gets, we would bring it in, and he would process it and give it away to needy families. And, I think it's a great thing. And, I just don't understand why we can do it anymore,” said Michelle Rogers.

Although other plants involved in “Hunters Against Hunger” supply food banks across the state, Tulsa food codes say licensed food establishments, which include food banks, can't accept food that comes from unapproved sources.

To watch the October 24, 2006 story, click here.