Tennessee Wildlife Federation, one of Tennessee’s largest nonprofits dedicated to conserving the state’s wildlife and natural resources, is celebrating the 25th year of its Hunters for the Hungry program.
Established in 1998, the Federation’s Hunters for the Hungry program has been a platform for generous hunters to give back to Tennessee communities. Hunters for the Hungry is a unique and creative way to provide healthy, much-needed protein to food-insecure Tennesseeans while helping to manage the state’s deer herd. The program partners with state-permitted wild game processors across the state who in turn receive donated venison during white-tailed deer season, process the meat for free or at a reduced rate and make it available to local food banks and soup kitchens at no cost.
“We love working with Tennessee Wildlife Federation's Hunters for the Hungry because it allows us to offer a wider variety of high-quality protein to our guests,” said Brenda Kirk, Director of Radical Heart Food Pantry at Hermitage Hills Baptist Church. “We recently heard from one of our guests how excited she was to receive venison because it reminded her of her family's tradition of hunting, harvesting, and processing their own meat."
During deer season, hunters who harvest a deer may donate it to Hunters for the Hungry at a participating processor. Once the venison is processed, the protein is made available to local food banks and soup kitchens. One deer can supply as many as 168 servings of venison.
Since the beginning of the program, more than 8.7M servings, and 2.1M+ pounds of venison have been supplied to hunger relief agencies. From the 2021-2022 season, over half a million servings of fresh venison were provided. More than 3,000 of those went to the northwest Tennessee tornado relief efforts. Hunters for the Hungry has also supplied the Nashville Backpack program with over 47,000 packages of venison snack sticks since 2016.
With the opening of firearm deer season in Tennessee, the Federation looks forward to making its 25th year of Hunters for the Hungry one of the most successful years to date.
“Our success heading into our 25th anniversary year speaks to Tennesseans' spirit of giving,” said Matt Simcox, Hunters for the Hungry manager. “Hunters understand how precious our natural resources are and the efforts required to source local, organic protein. Hunters for the Hungry wouldn’t be where it is today without the commitment that our hunting community has to giving back.”
Those with valid Tennessee hunting licenses can donate deer to one of the 73 participating processors–including 14 new processors this year. The program also relies on monetary donations to operate. To donate visit tnwf.org/hungry.
The Great American Outdoors Act will fully and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund while investing in a backlog of public land maintenance, providing current and future generations the outdoor recreation opportunities like boat launches to access fishable waters, shooting ranges, and public lands to hunt as well as the economic stimulus we need right now.