Public outrage hit a fever pitch last week when it was discovered that $8,000 worth of deer meat donated by hunters to feed the homeless was destroyed by the State Department of Health and Hospitals. However, local politicians have delivered a quick response and a promise: this won't happen again.

Louisiana State Representative Jeff Thompson (R-Bossier City) held a press conference on Monday (Feb. 25) to discuss how Louisiana will handle hunters' donations in the future and how the destroyed venison will be replaced.

A Way to Say 'Yes'

Speaking to a group of reporters at the Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission in downtown Shreveport, Rep. Thompson pledged that there would never again be a situation where donated deer meat would go to waste.

"Government across this nation oftentimes seems out of control. I think everybody here is devoted to making sure that each and every branch of government, each and every agency, should work on behalf of taxpayers to find the way to say yes, not an excuse or reason to say no," said Thompson. "Through the various departments before you today, I'm glad to say that we've worked together so far to find a way to say yes, to resolve the issue regarding the donations to great organizations like this rescue mission and programs like Hunters for the Hungry."

Rep. Thompson was referring to the seizure and destruction in January of hundreds of pounds of deer meat donated by local hunters.

Solidarity Among Lawmakers

Thompson then introduced Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Dr. Mike Strain, who flew in from Baton Rouge to address the press.

Strain said that while most will never know what it's like to be hungry, it's a daily crisis for many citizens. To ensure the donated venison that was destroyed by the DHH would be replaced, Strain reached out to Foster Farms, who promised 1,600 pounds of meat. A $750 donation was also provided.

But what about the laws in place that caused the situation in the first place? Dr. Strain said that discussion will be had soon.

"The good thing is, we're going into session real soon. And what we're going to do is craft legislation that will permit the donation of deer and other proteins that can be processed and donated to facilities like [the Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission]," said Strain.

Also in attendance were Senator Sherri Buffington, Senator Neil Riser, Representative Roy Burrell, Reverend Henry Martin of the Shreveport Bossier Rescue Mission and Jimmy Anthony, Deputy Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

The Future of Donating Deer Meat

Is this the happy ending those outraged by the DHH's original decision had envisioned? It appears as such.  The future seems a lot brighter for hunters interested in donating to a good cause. That same future is brighter for those in need of the services of the Shreveport/Bossier Rescue Mission and due to the generous donation of 1400 pounds of chicken from Foster Farms and a $750 check from the Louisiana Cattleman's Association, all the destroyed meat has been replaced.

"This program is viable, it's a great way to contribute to the community, and next year come back and redouble your efforts," said Rep. Thompson. "We lost 1,400 pounds, we're 1,400 pounds back to the good plus more, and we're not stopping there."

When pressed on whether a governmental agency would ever again douse donated meat with bleach, Rep. Thompson responded firmly.

"That's not going to happen again under these circumstances in Louisiana, I guarantee it," said Rep. Thompson.

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