BIG ISLAND—Venison provides low-fat, high-protein nutrition for food banks and other feeding programs, but donations of deer to Hunters for the Hungry are down.
“We are seeing a tremendous need for deer meat, and our donations are down by 60,000 pounds right now,” said Gary Arrington, special projects coordinator for the nonprofit organization.
Based in Bedford County, Hunters for the Hungry was formed in 1991 to donate venison to 501(c)(3) nonprofit groups that provide food to those in need. Hunters donate deer meat, and participating processors cut and package the venison that’s provided to food banks, shelters, feeding programs and churches at no charge.
“Some groups are saying they have three times the people coming in for assistance of all kinds, but the biggest need is food,” Arrington said.
Over the past 20 years, the group has donated more than 4.9 million pounds of venison. This year’s goal is to donate 390,000 pounds statewide.
“During this season of giving, we would ask hunters and hunt clubs to think about donating deer to those who are less fortunate, and to earmark them to be donated to Hunters for the Hungry's nearest participating processor or drop-off station,” Arrington said. “If everyone pitches in these last three weeks of hunting season, it will help us meet the demand throughout the remainder of this year and the first quarter of 2013.”
Donations are down this year due to a number of factors. Above-average temperatures and drought conditions have made it difficult for hunting dogs to pick up deer scents, according to Hunters for the Hungry Program Director Laura Newell-Furniss. Additionally, some people can’t afford to hunt or can’t afford to take time off from work. Other hunters report that they’re not seeing the quantity of deer they have in the past.
“Given all these factors, we’re asking hunters … to please go out one more time before the season is over and take a mature, large-bodied deer for our program,” Newell-Furniss said. “One deer will mean that 200 quarter-pound servings of lean meat will reach people in need this holiday season.”
For additional information about Hunters for the Hungry or how to donate, call 800-352-4868.