Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry partners with local sponsors; Highland to join Snack Stick Program
Thanks to the generous support of area business owners, Ronnie Ritter, with the Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry organization, said there will be additions to the Highland School District Backpack Program.
“The Snack Stick program is something we did a soft launch on last spring to see if it would work, but we’re working through weekend backpack programs for kids who don’t have enough to eat on the weekends,” Ritter said. “We thought a few years ago this might really work because deer is a very healthy meat, high protein, low fat and these are shelf stable. We started working on the program and now through sponsorships and the donations of deer we can process, we can now put snack sticks in these backpacks for the weekends.”
The program is statewide; however, is limited by funding and the availability of meat.
“Nathan Circle and Renee Clay-Circle and businesses they own, as well as, Razorback Archery, are sponsors of this. They did 2,000 packages for the Highland School District and they will go to the elementary and possibly the middle school backpack programs,” Ritter said. “We’re working with 10 other schools across the state and so the demand is higher than we expected.”
Ritter said each deer is tested for Chronic Wasting Disease and then once processed is taken to a facility in Missouri to be finished out and set up for distribution.
Although sponsorship funding is a vital part of ensuring the program can continue, the influx of donated deer meat is most important.
Ritter said it takes approximately two large deer or approximately 60 pounds of deer meat to create 275 of the snack stick packages which include four Slimjim type snack sticks made from the deer meat.
“We are trying to raise sponsors in a particular area in the state, but we also need deer. It costs us a dollar to produce a pack. We carry the deer up to Missouri to a place that can make it shelf stable. We’re trying to raise enough money to go throughout the school year. We have to have enough deer donated to do this. Next year, we hope to use the deer from the Horseshoe Bend and Cherokee Village urban deer hunts,” Ritter said. “We didn’t have a refrigerated trailer out early this year, but we will next year.”
Although there is a “freezer clean out” event held for the organization in Little Rock each year, the meat needed to make the snack sticks must meet certain requirements.
Ritter said presently, there is a refrigerated trailer at Razorback Archery near Agnos and that freshly killed, field dressed deer can be taken to the trailer and will then be used for multiple feeding programs including supplying area food banks with ground deer meat.
Ritter said one benefit of the urban hunts is that there is no limit and the first deer killed from each hunter must be donated. Although this is a benefit to the program, the number of kills this year has dropped, meaning less meat available to help feed those in need.
To contribute or for more information, contact RonnieRitter@Yahoo.com or call 501-282-0006. You may also contact Nathan Circle by phone at 870-847-5225.