Tennessee Wildlife Federation, one of the largest and oldest nonprofits 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 its most successful one to date.
Established in 1998, Hunters for the Hungry is a unique and creative way to provide healthy, much-needed protein to food-insecure Tennesseans while helping landowners manage local deer herds and providing hunters more opportunity to hunt beyond filling their freezers. Hunters for the Hungry partners with certified wild game processors across the state to process donated deer at a discounted rate, which 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 every year to support their fellow Tennesseans,” said Matt Simcox, Hunters for the Hungry program manager. “The 2022–2023 season was no different except more people are invested in our mission and are committed to giving back.”
Historic Numbers by All
A milestone for the program was met this deer season with historic numbers from generous hunters who donated—an all-time high—3,116 deer. Over the last two years, the program has recruited 27 new processors bringing the total number to 73 processors across Tennessee. These hardworking processors processed a record 148,011 pounds of venison equaling 592,044 servings of venison (another record) to be distributed amongst hunger relief organizations in Tennessee.
All of these statistics contribute to the larger impact Hunters for the Hungry has had over the last quarter of a 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 Servings of Venison: 9,315,024
“We’ve seen a steady increase of donations which is promising, but there’s always room for growth,” said Simcox. “The state of Tennessee had a total harvest of over 160,000 deer for the 2022-2023 season and only around 2% of those were donated to Hunters for the Hungry. We’re excited to get back at it 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 to learn more about Hunters for the Hungry, visit tnwf.org/HFTH.