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Hunters for the Hungry, an organization that receives venison donated by hunters and supplies it to food banks and other programs to help feed the needy, is appealing to sportsmen to contribute more his hunting season.
There is a two-fold problem: donations of venison to the program are down, but there are more people in need of food.
“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.
“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. “If everyone pitches in these last weeks of hunting season, it will help us meet the demand throughout the remainder of this year and the first quarter of 2013.” The firearms deer season for Caroline County ends Jan. 5.
Donations are down this year due to a number of factors, said the organization’s program director Laura Newell-Furniss. “Above-average temperatures and drought conditions have made it difficult for hunting dogs to pick up deer scents,” she said. Additionally, some people cannot afford to hunt or take time off from work. Other hunters report that they are not seeing the quantity of deer they have in the past.
The organization appealed to hunters to coordinate efforts with their hunt clubs or hunting groups, families, and friends, to harvest extra deer and donate them for the feeding program.
Based in Bedford County, Hunters for the Hungry was formed in 1991 to donate venison to nonprofit groups that provide food to those in need. Hunters and farmers 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. The venison is distributed as close to where it is donated as possible.
To donate venison, hunters simply take their field-dressed, legally tagged deer to a participating meat processor who is paid by Hunters for the Hungry to butcher the carcass and package, freeze, and store the venison. When a meat processor has a quantity of donated venison, he calls Hunters for the Hungry to arrange for it to be picked up by a food bank or other program
Hunters also may donate packages of venison as well as contribute financially to the cost of processing deer.
Since it was started in 1991, deer hunters in Virginia have donated more than 4.9 million pounds of venison – enough to provide nearly 20 million quarter-pound servings of protein. Last year Hunters for the Hungry distributed 391,922 pounds of venison.
There are no participating meat processors in Caroline County, but there are several in three adjoining counties as follows.
King & Queen: Wayne Carrington, Shanghai Meet Processing, Shanghai, (804) 785-7514.
Essex: Rayzway Three, Champlain, (804) 443-6707.
Hanover: Ezra Thom, Southern’s Wild Game, Mechanicsville, (804) 971-8717.
For more information about Hunters for the Hungry, call (800) 352-4868 or visit the website at www.h4hungry.org.