‘Meating’ the need in communities across Indiana

Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry has provided more than 1.8M pounds of meat over a decade

If you shoot an extra deer this season in Indiana—or if you’ve raised an extra cow, pig or chicken—there’s an organization that will take it off your hands and place it into ones that need it.

Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry facilitates large donations of game and livestock in Indiana to provide meat to hunger-relief agencies across the state, with donors able to write off fair market value of livestock on their taxes.

Founded in 2011, the organization started with one butcher shop in northeast Indiana and today partners with 85 meat processors statewide.

“Our founder had worked with a nationwide program that did similar work, but wanted to make sure all of the money, funding and donations stayed here in Indiana,” says Amber Zecca, Fund Development Director for Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry.

“We started with deer, and now it’s grown into all kinds of livestock donations. We’ll take it all.”

Year-round, the organization encourages hunters and farmers to give large game and livestock to Hoosiers, but efforts ramp up during its MEAT The Need Benefit, which is held annually in September.

Now, what exactly is a Hoosier? Outsiders may not know that it refers to an inhabitant of Indiana. And right now, roughly 900,000 Hoosiers face food insecurity and rely on agencies to put food on the table.

“We’ve seen demand shift over the years, but COVID was certainly a large year in terms of need with layoffs and schools closing,” says Zecca.

Zecca also shares that nearby factory shutdowns due to COVID led to a “skyrocket” in pork donations.

Between 2020 and 2021, Enbridge gave $20,000 to Hoosiers Feeding The Hungry as part of our commitment to improving the quality of life in communities near our operations. The funding helped the organization increase its processing capacity to better serve Indiana communities.

“We were so thankful for the support because it came at just the right time,” says Zecca. “With the funding from Enbridge, we were able to process 15,000 pounds of meat and serve more than 60,000 meals to residents who were struggling.”

Community support has been key for Hoosiers—which is pleasantly ironic, given that the organization focuses on giving back to the community. Between this year and last, personal donations rose to a total of $85,000.

“The way we see it is that a meal provided to a person not only reduces hunger but increases their disposable income by not having to spend money on food,” says Zecca.

If you aren’t at liberty to donate livestock or deer to one of the organization’s participating meat processors, it’s easy to make a small donation that will provide meals to Hoosiers.

Zecca asserts that without Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry, there would not be a healthy food staple option for locals and they would miss out on important nutrients for brain and body development.

“I love being able to help people because I understand. I’ve been through it. This past year has been pretty amazing for us despite things that would otherwise be considered bad,” she says.

“People were so giving.”

(TOP PHOTO: Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry facilitates large donations of game and livestock in Indiana, working with meat processors statewide. The meat is distributed across Indiana by food pantries like the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana, pictured here.)