Feeding the Poor of Los Angeles with Wild Game

From the story in the Los Angeles Times:

On Monday night’s dinner menu at the Union Rescue Mission: tacos made from elk, deer, sheep, wild pig, black bear and antelope. For pescatarians, there were yellow tail, tilapia and tuna tacos. Vegetarians were out of luck. About 250 pounds of fresh game meat was donated for the feast, sponsored by the Sportsman Channel as a part of its national “Hunt. Fish. Feed.” initiative. Most diners were unfazed by the rustic fare. _Many skid row residents who eat at shelters are used to diets that vary depending on what has been donated that week ˜ from day-old doughnuts to Dodger dogs. “All right, give me some of the wild stuff,” Tommy Harris said when he learned his ground-meat taco was partly made of bear. “I want to go to the wild side.” Harris was sitting with some friends in the noisy cafeteria at the Union Rescue Mission, where he lives and works. Volunteers plopped plates of food in front of them, and the men closed their eyes to pray.

Ralph Johnson, 48, picked up a dripping taco and took a bite. “It tastes . . . just like tacos,” he said. “Well, what’d you expect?” Harris asked him, laughing. “A big piece of bear claw or something?” Although free meals are handed out daily on skid row, food options are often limited. “It’s really easy to get caught up in the unhealthy diet,” said Linda Valverde, an area resident who put together a cookbook with suggestions on how to eat healthfully on food stamps. Shelters and residential hotels often offer little or no access to cooking space or refrigerators. And there are no large grocery stores on skid row. Area corner stores close early, and their offerings tend to be heavy on alcohol and nonperishable foods such as candy, ramen noodles and potato chips, and scarce in fruits and vegetables._