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Feeding our communities is part of the Blackfeet cultural tradition, and now hunters have a new opportunity to help provide game meat to their neighbors’ plates. Hunters Against Hunger is a program run by the Montana Food Bank Network (MFBN) where hunters can donate their meat to Montanans in need. Now, thanks to a new partnership between the MFBN, the Blackfeet Food Access and Sustainability Team (FAST), Blackfeet C&C Meat Processing, and Blackfeet Fish and Wildlife Department, animals harvested using Blackfeet tribal tags or MT Fish and Wildlife and Parks tags are eligible to be donated. This meat is then distributed to Blackfeet Nation residents who utilize the Ōyō•ṗ Food Pantry or the Blackfeet Food Distribution Program and Food Bank.

“Everyone wants to ensure that we’re able to have access to legally harvested game meat in our communities. Blackfeet hunters are skilled and generous and often end up with more meat than they can use themselves, and feeding our communities is part of our culture. So, this program is perfect,” said Mariah Gladstone, FAST Blackfeet board member and Blackfeet hunter.

It is this sentiment that led to the first formalized meat donation policy with a tribe for the Hunters Against Hunger program.

Originally there was no clear policy for tribal tags being used for the donation program, and so up until last month harvested tribal game was ineligible for the Hunters Against Hunger program. FAST Blackfeet and the MFBN wanted to resolve this challenge and create a new standard for how tribal donations can operate in the future.

They reached out to Gerald “Buzz” Cobell, the director of the Fish and Wildlife Department, to help create the new policy. His statement to MFBN solidified the new policy by stating, “We are pleased to support a local tribal business by bringing donated big game animals to C&C Meat Processing. Please be advised that wild game taken from the Blackfeet Reservation can be donated by hunters and the meat provided to the Blackfeet Food Pantry and the FAST Blackfeet Ōyō•ṗ Food Pantry for distribution.”

If you would like to donate an animal harvested with a Blackfeet tribal tag or a Montana FWP tag, you can contact C&C Meat Processing and let them know you wish to donate all or part of the animal. When the animal is donated C&C gets reimbursed by the Montana Food Bank Network for the cost of processing, and then it goes to the food pantries.

To read the complete article, pick up a copy of this week’s issue or subscribe to the Browning Glacier Reporter, Cut Bank Pioneer Press,  Shelby Promoter and The Valierian newspapers at http://www.cutbankpioneerpress.com/site/services/

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