The last two months of the year represent a traditional time for all Americans to reflect on the blessings in their lives, even amid a pandemic. During this time, many of us give thanks for all we have received. NRA members who hunt certainly reflect on their blessings every time they bag game. American hunters are thankful for the bounty. In such moments, they become even more acutely aware of how much they have received, leading to a question many hunters ask themselves today: Does my family need this meat? Can someone else benefit from this healthy, organic protein more than me? If the answer to question two is “yes,” hunters may donate their game to Hunters for the Hungry.
Through the program, more than 2.1 million pounds of meat donated by hunters every year produces 8.1 million meals annually. That’s a lot of giving—and it’s a lot to be thankful for regardless of in which end of the line you may find yourself standing.
Hunters for the Hungry is an initiative supported by the National Rifle Association to give back to communities by supplying healthy, organic game meat across the country. This is possible because the NRA works closely with state programs/affiliates to connect interested individuals with programs in their area and to foster awareness of this activity through education, fundraising and publicity. NRA Hunters for the Hungry plays a key role in this nationwide charitable effort by maintaining a state-by-state database of processors and supporting groups at hfth.nra.org, where an easy-to-use website guides hunters to donate healthy venison.
Virginia, Missouri, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Ohio are the states where deer hunters are known to give the most on average. But you don’t have to live in or hunt in any of those states to donate game meat. Across the nation, American hunters’ generosity regularly goes to homeless shelters, soup kitchens and food banks. Visit hfth.nra.org to learn how you can donate venison to families and individuals in need.
While we discuss this topic, it’s important to note that this year it is more important than ever to plan ahead if you use commercial processors to render your game for the freezer. The COVID-19 pandemic has created a bottleneck at many commercial meat processors, and this problem could affect hunters who plan to donate venison.
One NRA partner in this worthy cause, Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry (FHFH), a venison-donation ministry based in Hagerstown, Md., is now advising would-be donors to any hunters-for-the-hungry program —along with those who opt to have their own deer processed professionally—to avoid frustrating surprises by checking with their local butchers for any changes in their operations.
“The impact of COVID-19 on some of the larger commercial processing plants across the country has had a trickle-down impact on many local butchers and meat markets,” said FHFH Executive Director Josh Wilson. “There are some meat-processing locations that are completely booked with livestock until well into the new year—and, as a result, some have opted to pause the deer-processing portion of their business until they are caught up. With more people than usual depending on food-assistance programs and ministries due to the pandemic, we are encouraging all hunters to plan ahead and make sure they can continue to donate their deer this season.” Since 1997, FHFH (fhfh.org) has distributed nearly 21 million servings of nutritious food.
While the situation is not expected to impact all areas, hunters who learn their local butcher may no longer handle deer this season should consult hfth.nra.org to search for an alternate donation location in their area.