The Tennessee Wildlife Federation, one of the oldest and largest nonprofit organizations dedicated to conserving the state’s wildlife and natural resources, is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its Hunters for the Hungry program. This year also marks the most successful to date.
Established in 1998, Hunters for the Hungry is a unique and creative way to provide much-needed, healthy protein to food-insecure Tennesseans while helping landowners manage local deer herds and providing hunters more opportunities to hunt beyond filling their freezers. Hunters for the Hungry partners with certified wild game processors throughout the state to process donated deer at a discounted rate, which the Tennessee Wildlife Federation covers from donations, allowing hunters to donate their harvest free of charge. Hunters for the Hungry then makes the processed venison available to local food banks and soup kitchens at no cost.
“Looking back on the program’s 25-year history, our hunters and processors have risen to the challenge each year to support their fellow Tennessees,” said Matt Simcox, Hunters for the Hungry program manager. “The 2022-2023 season was no different, except more people are engaged in our mission and committed to giving back.”
This deer season marked a milestone for the program with historic numbers of generous hunters donating an all-time record 3,116 deer. In the past two years, the program has hired 27 new processors, bringing the total number to 73 processors in all of Tennessee. These processor workers processed a record 141,011 pounds of venison, equaling 592,044 servings of venison (another record) to be distributed to Tennessee hunger organizations.
All of these statistics contribute to the greater impact that Hunters for the Hungry has had over the past quarter century. Since its inception, the program has donated venison to various hunger relief organizations, women’s shelters, senior centers, rehabilitation clinics, homeless shelters, children’s homes, churches, and victims of natural disasters.
25 years by the numbers:
Total number of deer donated: 44,440
Total Pounds of Venison Donated: 2,328,756
Total number of venison servings: 9,315,024
“We have seen a steady increase in giving which is promising, but there is always room for growth,” Simcox said. “The state of Tennessee had a total harvest of over 160,000 deer for the 2022-2023 season and only about 2% of those were donated to Hunters for the Hungry. We’re excited to do it again next year and improve that percentage.”
Hunters for the Hungry continues to be a platform for generous hunters and processors to give back to Tennessee communities. The program also relies on monetary donations to operate. To donate, visit tnwf.org/hungry and for more information on Hunters for the Hungry, visit tnwf.org/HFTH.
About the Tennessee Wildlife FederationThe Tennessee Wildlife Federation leads the conservation, wise management and wise use of Tennessee’s great outdoors. Since 1946, the Federation has spearheaded the development of the state’s wildlife policy, promoted landmark air and water quality legislation and other conservation initiatives, helped restore numerous species, and introduced thousands of children to the outdoors. For more information, visit tnwf.org.