Deer hunting is a favorite pastime for many PEC lineworkers in our Junction District. With food insecurity and hunger on the rise, one crew is now using its hobby to put food on the table for Texans in need. PEC Regional Operations Supervisor Charles Herbst started the project in November 2020.
“I owned a deer processing plant in the area for 17 years, until I recently sold it. A lot of the hunters would come in and donate [wildlife] they didn’t have a need for,” Herbst said. “I was sitting around thinking that I might be able to do something, so I pitched the idea to the linemen. They said, ‘Let’s do it — whatever you need, we’ll help you.’”
Together with five PEC lineworkers, Herbst and the crew have gathered and processed more than 400 pounds of venison. The group prepares the meat donations at Herbst’s ranch and a few lineworkers have even brought their own family members out to help the cause.
Herbst and his wife Randi teamed up with Junction’s Trinity Episcopal Church to distribute the food through a program called, Meat the Need. So far, their efforts have helped feed more than eight local families. Those who helped Herbst prepare the meat include: his son Brady; Journeyworker Charlie Cox and his wife Dana; Journeyworker Charles “Peewee” Tomlinson and his sons Chase, and Cameron; Lineworker Apprentice Phillip Stapp; Regional Operations Manager Craig Meador; and Journeyworker DJ Cagle.
Since the pandemic began, food insecurity in Texas has more than doubled — that’s according to Feeding Texas, the largest hunger-relief organization in the state with more than 21 member foodbanks. Currently, more than 8.9 million Texans are in need of food, with over half seeking assistance for the first time.
“I know with everything going on, there are so many families that need the help,” Herbst said. “I’m fortunate to have the ability and facilities to do this, and of course all the guys here grew up hunting, so this really was a perfect fit for our Junction crew.”
Herbst hopes to expand the program to provide even more meat to his neighbors in need in the future.