- The Washington Times - Monday, November 14, 2005

HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) — Elk gumbo, anyone?

It may be on the menu when more than 1 tons of donated elk meat and venison from as far away as Arizona arrive this week in Biloxi, Miss. The intended beneficiaries are Hurricane Katrina relief workers and victims of the storm that devastated the Gulf Coast city Aug. 29.

The donations were coordinated by Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry, a Hagerstown-based charity that pays for the processing of wild game for distribution to food banks and soup kitchens.

The donated game is usually distributed locally.

“This is a very unusual thing to be sending it across country,” Executive Director Rick Wilson said as he watched 907 pounds of ground venison in five-pound, plastic-wrapped packages being moved from a walk-in freezer at the Food Resources Inc. warehouse in Hagerstown into a refrigerated semitrailer.

It was driver Chris Crabtree’s last pickup on a trip that started Nov. 7 in Flagstaff, Ariz., and included stops in Arvada, Colo.; Kansas City, Kan.; Robinson, Ill.; and Columbus, Ohio. The truck is expected to arrive in Biloxi on Thursday.

Kerry Ketchum, executive director of the Northern Arizona Food Bank and leader of the region’s Farmers and Hunters program, said meat is rarely donated to food charities, and soup kitchens often must buy it themselves.

The Rev. Lonnie Stewart, senior pastor of International Spirit of Truth Ministries in Nevada, Texas, said his group has served 230,000 meals to victims and relief workers since the hurricane. The group’s 40-foot mobile kitchenin Biloxi is providing three meals a day to 300 volunteers who are helping rebuild 1,500 homes in the area, Mr. Stewart said.

“We have spent a lot of money for items, especially meat,” he said. “The longer we’re out of the hurricane, the shorter the supply of products, and so everything we get is a real necessity.”

Mr. Stewart said the venison and elk meat will find its way into chili and stews, including some recipes with a regional flavor. “They do cook some Cajun dishes and things that Mississippi folks like,” he said.

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