Advocates say part of the surplus should go to food banks which have proliferated during the pandemic. City Harvest London provided 300,000 meals in February 2020. A year later, it had provided more than a million, some with game.
The Country Food Trust operates on an even larger scale, which, since its inception in 2015, has distributed over two million meals to over 1,900 charities across Britain, often using chunks of meat from game dealers like Mr. Robinson and MC Kelly.
Since October, it has supplied over 167,000 servings of venison bolognese and about the same amount of plain ground meat. “The majority comes first over the kids,” said Tim Woodward, CEO of the trust. “I would buy every piece of deer I could get my hands on now, because we have an endless need for it.” “
Forestry England, part of the Forestry Commission, sells around 265 tonnes of game per year – enough for 2.4 million meals – to game dealers, including MC Kelly, who then resell them.
To start, Mr Woodward of the Country Food Trust lobbied for the Forestry Commission to donate all deer carcasses to his group as a cost-effective way for the government to tackle food poverty quickly.
It would be a huge undertaking and would require major distribution changes. But the effort is gaining momentum. One of the main supporters of the Country Food Trust is Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, a long-time Member of Parliament and chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Shooting and Conservation, which includes around 400 politicians.
In an interview, Mr Clifton-Brown acknowledged that change could be slow, as Forestry England is an independent public body that has a habit of selling deer, even at bargain prices, rather than giving it away. “It’s quite a change of psyche for them to do that.”