Why in the world would anyone donate their wild game meat? The reasons are plentiful. I knew of friends doing it on their own, but I didn’t know that some organizations and states encourage it. From what I have found, most people donate the excess meat that they either can’t store or won’t eat. I have been researching this topic over the last couple of weeks. Since I wrote my last blog post, I have had other people also comment about donating meat. I believe that donating game meat, or venison, is a great way of propagating why hunting is a good sport and how hunters aren’t heartless killers but instead people that care about the world around them. According to Congressionalsportsmen.org, “Research has shown that most adult Americans (87%) will support hunting if the primary motivation of the hunter is to procure meat.” Hopefully reading this post will help anyone interested in donating meat find a place and a way to make the donations.
Most Basic Way.
The most basic way of donating game meat is by making a personal donation to someone you know. This may or may not be the easiest. In this situation, it would mean cleaning and processing the meat yourself or taking the meat to a processor and picking it up and donating it. When I hunt, I like to do all the work myself. It’s cheaper to do my own butchering. I’ll even cut my strips for jerky at that time so it’s convenient for me to process my own meat. The con to processing my own meat is that I can’t take that meat to a donation place or a food kitchen. I can do a personal donation to a neighbor or friend that needs meat. Taking the meat to a processor is convenient in that you don’t have to do the work. You just field dress, or quarter, your animal and take it to the butcher. The downside is the fees you must pay. If the meat processor is certified, you may be able to take that meat to a food bank and donate it. The other nice thing is that there are organizations that have done most of the leg work for anyone wishing to donate meat.
There are quite a few organizations that help in the donating of wild game meat. Some states like New York and Wisconsin, have built-in processes to donate meat. A quick glance on google also shows how many other states encourage donating meat. This is a good way to give back to others in need. The other organizations out there seem to be somewhat state-specific. My guess is that it is because they are still growing and trying to set up meat processors and food banks can be quite time-consuming. Hunters for the Hungry is an organization that seems to be in certain states. Montana, Texas, and Virginia seem to be primary places for Hunters for the hungry. The nice thing is that Hunters for the Hungry pays for all the processing costs. At that point, you can pick if you want to donate a portion or all your deer.
Another organization I found is Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry. They seem to be in most of the country. Their website has a map showing where they are. One of the things I liked was how they explain how the organization started and what inspired the founder to start this organization. It gave me a feeling of depth for the organization. The founder of FHFH had this idea come to him while helping a woman load a deer into her trunk to feed her children. Looking through their site, you really get a feeling that this organization is there to benefit others. The way donating works is similar to the Hunters for the Hungry. Once you’ve field dressed your deer, take it to a participating butcher. On its website, FHFH has 21 states with multiple butchers listed. I was surprised to find one in Utah, but it made me feel good that someone has already taken that initiative and got this wheel moving. I have a friend that lives in Arizona that was trying to donate his Elk meat through FHFH.
My friend said that his experience was great emailing with FHFH. He was trying to find a spot around his part of Arizona. He says that the biggest issue was finding a meat processor that was willing to donate his fees to process the meat and then donate it. That is why FHFH will also take monetary donations so that they can help pay for the meat processing. Still, I think finding a meat processor willing to donate his time in the heat of hunting season would be hard to do. My buddy mentioned how he doesn’t have room for all his elk meat and next season he still plans on donating his elk meat, even if he has to pay the fees himself.
That’s the main challenge I see with using an organization to donate your venison through. While some organizations can help pay the fees, you may have to front some of that bill. This is why I say this can be a more complicated way to donate your game meat. Working through all the hoops can be time-consuming and if this isn’t something that has been considered beforehand that meat’s clock is ticking and processing it quickly is a big deal. My recommendation is to take the time now, do the research now that hunting season is just wrapping up. That way when the time comes, you already know what butcher you are taking your venison to and if you want to donate all the meat or just a portion of it.
The last way to donate and support these organizations is to make financial contributions. Most of these organizations are non-profit which means that any monetary donations are tax-deductible. The money seems to go to running the organization but more importantly to paying meat processing fees. Making a cash donation is a good way to support the programs in case you can’t make a meat donation but support how the programs work. The use of game meat in feeding the hungry has been proven to be a cheap effective way of providing sustenance to those in need. FHFH states on their site that “venison is low in fat, naturally nutritious and costs about $.25 per serving.” That makes feeding the hungry very cost-efficient.
Why Would Anyone Donate Venison?
Donating game meat can be an effective way to give back to those in need. As hunters, we spend our time contributing to the care of wild game through our hunting fees and all the different conservation organizations that we participate in. Taking some time and either donating meat or cash to one of these meat donation organizations can be of greater benefit than a 30-dollar donation to some big conservation organizations. After all this research, I’m more inclined to hunt big game knowing that I can donate most of my meat and still have some for myself. Even if I don’t hunt a deer or elk, donating even 30 bucks to one of the organizations I mentioned, can be super beneficial to those in need.
Thanks for reading and don’t forget to share this post and help other hunters know that donating game meat is an option. If you want to hear more about my adventures and the things that I learn along the way, don’t forget to subscribe to the blog by clicking at the top right.