Finally, after 12 years, the provincial government — under new Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture Minister Elvis Loveless — has approved a pilot program in the St. John’s area, which started Nov. 15, called Sharing the Harvest NL Inc.
This program allows big game hunters to donate moose or caribou meat to food banks. Hunters have a long history of sharing the harvest with family and friends and this gives us another avenue. There are no extra licenses and it is 100 per cent voluntary for hunters, meat processors and food banks that want to participate.
Successful big game hunters this year who want to make a donation can log into our website, Sharing the Harvest NL, and register, providing information like licence number, name of butcher and how much they wish to donate. Hunters can take the donation, via the butcher, directly to the food bank or we will arrange transportation from the butcher to the food bank.
We are asking hunters who want to donate to have the butcher grind the donated meat into burger, because it can be prepared in a variety of ways. It should also be frozen before it is given to the food bank.
Moose is free-range, 100 per cent organic, protein-rich meat, which requires some preparation.
Most food banks are in favour of this program, according to our surveys, and they have the freezer capacity to store the meat. Food banks would be notified of any donations and they, in turn, would notify their clientele.
I have mostly thought about the hunter’s side and the donation aspect of the program. When food security activist Debbie Wiseman of the Social Justice Co-operative NL teamed up with me, she highlighted the benefits to the food banks. This was an important factor in implementing the program, especially given our food security issues. Along with fellow director Lucas Roberts, three of us make up the executive of Sharing the Harvest NL.
Most of the items at food banks are boxed or canned food. Moose is free-range, 100 per cent organic, protein-rich meat, which requires some preparation. The end result is not only a nutritious meal, but quality family time spent together at the dinner table.
We have just received a new 15 cubic foot deep freezer, compliments of Leon’s Furniture on Elizabeth Avenue in St. John’s. We are seeking a corporate sponsor for a monetary donation that will pay for the processing and transportation of the meat to the food banks next year, should a hunter wish to avail of our help.
I have also received confirmation that the government is expanding and legalizing the donation of game meat to the rest of the island. Hunters all across the island will have the ability to legally donate moose meat, via a butcher, directly to the food banks. It’s not too late for already successful big game hunters to make a donation to the food banks.
All food banks that want to participate must apply for a permit to receive a donation and will have to record hunter information and submit it to the government at the end of the season. For more information or to download the permit, food banks can check Sharing the Harvest NL, Food First NL, or the government website.
Looking ahead to next year, we will have everything in place and we have some great ideas and plans for our program. At the end of the year, the government will poll the food banks to determine the pilot program’s success.
Sharing the Harvest NL
Newfoundland Outdoor Heritage Coalition Inc.
St. John’s Long Beards, Canadian Wild Turkey Federation