NEWTOWN, Conn. - For food banks nationwide, acquiring protein is a challenge because of the high cost of meat. Fortunately during hunting season, hunters help make up the shortfall with generous donations of protein-rich, low-fat venison that provide 11 million meals annually to the less fortunate.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry, reports that, thanks to hunters, an estimated 2.8 million pounds of game meat makes its way each year to food pantries, church kitchens and shelters and onto the plates of those in need.
“Without venison, some of these organizations would not have protein, wouldn’t have meat, to give to those folks who are coming in,” said Peter Aldrich of Hunt To Feed in Connecticut.
With one deer able to feed up to 200 people, it’s easy to see how important donations of hunter-harvested venison are to charitable food providers. Last year in Missouri, for example, 4,500 hunters donated more than 227,000 pounds of venison through a state program.
The NSSF video called Share Your Harvest encourages hunters to contribute some portion of their harvest this hunting season. “If you have a successful hunting season, donating venison is a way to make it an even better and more meaningful one,” points out Glenn Sapir, the video’s host.
Many states have at least one organization that will accept donations of venison or other game meat and ensure it is properly processed and reaches individuals and families in need of a nutritious meal. The NSSF website Hunters Feed can assist hunters in finding a charitable food provider, and your state wildlife agency, local fish and game club or food pantry can help as well. Various donation guidelines may apply, so it’s best to check with the organization or processor before bringing in your game.
If you’re not a hunter and wish to be part of this caring effort, most organizations will accept donations to help pay for butchering and other services.
The tradition of hunters donating deer and other game for charitable purposes is longstanding, and the impact of that generosity is told in NSSF’s infographic, Hunters Feed Those in Need.
NSSF encourages you to tell that story to hunters and non-hunters by sharing the resources mentioned.