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2014 Spotlight Gala Awards – Individual

 

Sometimes when looking for solutions, you have to think outside. For Scott Smathers, this meant thinking outside to the great Nebraska outdoors.

Through the Hunters Helping the Hungry Program, Scott found a unique way to combat hunger. For those efforts, Scott Smathers is the recipient of the 2014 Spotlight Gala Award for an Individual for the Hunters Helping the Hungry Program.

Scott’s “outside” solution came to him while he was reading the 2009 Voices for Children’s Annual Kids Count report.  He was shocked to learn that 3 out of 10 children go hungry every single day and was even more shocked to learn that child hunger isn’t just an urban problem – it’s a rural one too.  In fact, approximately 106,834 households across Nebraska were food insecure in 2012.

Scott was haunted by the reality that food insecurity could exist in such an abundant agricultural state, so he did some research and learned that there was a successful program in Iowa called Hunters Helping the Hungry.  He began working with Game and Parks, private companies and corporations, Nebraska State Senators, and area sportsmen to create a systematic infrastructure where sportsmen could donate funds as well as deer taken during the hunting season to area food pantries all across our state.

As a result, Hunters Helping the Hungry (HHH) was created by the Nebraska Legislature in April 2012. As former State Senator Tony Fulton stated, “This was an opportunity to meet an unmet need…republicans, democrats, liberals, conservatives and all political stripes in between could get behind this bill.”

The program is funded entirely by tax deductible donations made by hunters, businesses and individuals with contracted processors preparing the ground venison and charitable organizations distributing the meat.  In 2013, the program distributed more than 30,000 lbs of venison and they are on track in 2014 to distribute more than 35,000 lbs. With about 1 in 5 kids in rural areas of Nebraska having limited access to food, and meat in short supply at food banks, HHH is effectively adding protein into children’s diets.

With income levels stagnant, and food prices rising, we know working parents struggle to provide their kids with the nutrition they need for overall health and academic achievement.

Scott’s leadership, and the work of the Games and Parks Commission, Nebraska State Senators and the Nebraska Sportsmen, has helped put more food on the tables of hungry kids.  We are pleased to make Scott Smathers the recipient of the Spotlight Gala Award for an Individual for the Hunters Helping the Hungry Program.

The 2014 Spotlight Gala will be held on Saturday, September 13th.  Click here for tickets or additional information.  

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