Staff of the Tennessee Wildlife Federation’s Hunters for the Hungry (HFTH) program visited Memphis University School Monday to make a special presentation to members of the school’s HFTH Club. The MUS group took first place in a regional competition of community service, charitable giving, and hunger-relief awareness activities called the Hunger Challenge. The club’s activities resulted in some 60,500 meals provided to Memphians in crisis.
Members of the group include juniors Alex Barksdale, Carter Coleman, Bolton Gayden, Nick Bragorgos, Edward Apple, Billy Dunavant; sophomore Brent Robinson; and freshman Richard Bragorgos.
“The young men who participated in this club have a lot to be proud of,” said HFTH Manager Matt Simcox, who, with HFTH Coordinator Michael Folk, presented the students with the winning trophy. “They set an incredible example of hard work and a spirit of giving to their fellow students, and I suspect it will be contagious.”
This year, six Memphis schools participated in the Hunger Challenge, including Hutchison School (which won the Hunger Challenge last year), St. Agnes, St. Benedict, St. George’s, and Collierville High School. Hunger Challenge creator and longtime TWF board member Dr. Jack Gayden says he’s thrilled with the growth of the program.
“It’s very satisfying for me personally to see this thing taking hold,” said Gayden, a prominent Memphis physician. “To witness these young men and women grab the ball and run with it like this is amazing. I think as the Hunger Challenge continues to spread across the state, we have a chance at making a serious impact on the ongoing problem of hunger in Tennessee.”
Gayden’s son, Bolton, a junior at MUS, was recognized with two individual awards: Top Gun, presented to the student who raises the most money for hunger relief, and the Harvester Award, presented to the student personally responsible for the most donated deer.
Simcox explained that the HFTH program connects white-tailed deer hunters with local wild game processors who prepare and package donated venison either for free or at a reduced price to the hunter. The venison is then provided to area food banks and soup kitchens and is often the main source of fresh protein for hunger relief organizations. Since its founding in 1998, HFTH has accounted for more than 4 million meals in Tennessee.
“The Hunger Challenge is an extension of what has proven to be a life-changing program,” said Simcox. “Hunters for the Hungry not only gives hunters an opportunity to provide for their neighbors by doing something they love, but also offers a way for the non-hunting community to have a direct impact on hunger in their communities by donating funds for processing.”
Simcox said TWF plans to continue to expand the Hunger Challenge and encourages anyone interested in starting a HFTH club at their school to contact him at 615-353-1133.