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Hunters for the Hungry benefits everyone involved
Nov 07, 2012 12:00 am
With deer season underway and a good harvest predicted, hunters are being asked to donate some of their venison to Hunters for the Hungry.
Details about the statewide program are available on the website of the Tennessee Wildlife Federation which sponsors Hunters for the Hunters in conjunction with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
Here’s how it works:
A hunter takes a deer to any participating processing plant and stipulates that some or all of the processed venison be donated to Hunters for the Hungry. A kill tag must accompany the deer.
In some cases the hunter has to pay all or part of the processing fee, although it varies from processor to processor. Some processors will process the deer for free if it is donated to Hunters for the Hungry, while others offer discounts for donated venison.
Call the processor beforehand to see if he participates in the program and if so, what rates he offers.
Once the venison is processed and packaged it is picked up by a Second Harvest representative or other community-service volunteer for distribution to the needy.
Any church or community organization interested in collecting some of processed venison can contact their local deer-processing plants or the Tennessee Wildlife Federation.
State health department regulations prohibit the donation of venison that has not been processed by a licensed processing plant.
The TWF is working on ways to reduce or eliminate the processing cost for hunters by securing funds such as a $25,000 grant from the Wal-Mart Foundation and a $20,000 grant from the Plough Foundation.
Also when purchasing or renewing hunting & fishing licenses, individuals can designate $1 to go to Hunters for the Hungry.
Last year the program provided more than a half-million meals of high-protein venison to the state’s needy residents through church, community and other charitable food-service organizations.
“The whitetail deer is a healthy, renewable resource that has to be managed, and this program gives hunters a way to donate venison prepared by professional butchers to food banks and soup kitchens,” says Matt Simcox, the TWF’s statewide Hunters for the Hungry coordinator.
The Hunters for the Hungry program has grown in recent years as the state’s deer population has expanded and more and more deer are being harvested.
Donating venison to such a worthwhile program casts hunters and hunting in a positive light, during a time when hunting is under fire from PETA and other critics.
“It’s good for Tennessee’s hunters and beneficial for Tennessee’s needy,” Simcox says. “It’s a positive for everybody.”