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Hunters Take the Lead This Holiday Season to Help Feed the Hungry

Focus on D.C., Maryland, and Virginia Programs

Current events have created many challenges for hundreds of thousands of Americans struggling across the country. As hunters, we know one of the best sources of protein is venison we’ve harvested and one of the best ways to give back is to share this with our communities. This year, Safari Club International, SCI Chapters, and our membership are committed to working together with state-based organizations to address the issue of food access for Americans. 

Since 1991, Virginia Hunters for the Hungry has provided over 7.4 million pounds and 29.6 million servings to those in need. In Maryland, Farmers & Hunters Feeding the Hungry has donated over 600 tons – 4.8 million meals – since 1997. SCI Members participate in many of the hunters for the hungry programs in the DMV Area, with processors and collection sites all across Virginia and Maryland. Learn more here and here.

Food banks tell us that meat is their least available food item due to the high cost, so they gratefully accept venison donations. Venison is a nutritious, low fat, high protein meat that is cooked and distributed by hundreds of community organizations such as church pantries, the Salvation Army, community food banks, church feeding ministries, emergency assistance programs, and children’s homes. 

Here are some facts about venison: 

  • The average deer yields 50 pounds of meat
  • If ground and used in spaghetti or chili, one deer can feed 200 people at $0.25/serving
  • This comes to $1.00 per pound; the retail costs of the same cuts of beef are $2-$5 per pound
  • Research shows that most Americans (87%) will support hunting if the primary motivation of the hunter is to procure meat

In addition to the community benefits, this program is critical to deer management and conservation.  The program helps control the deer population in the area while also preventing deer meat from going to waste. For example, while whitetail deer were only present at a rate of 1 per square mile in the early 20th century in Virginia, their numbers have rebounded to 25 per square mile today. As a result, Virginia deer hunters have one of the highest success rates in the nation. 

State legislation is critical to expanding these efforts. For example, the Maryland legislature passed a bill that allows individuals to claim income tax credit for donating deer meat to specified non-profit organizations that distribute the meat to those in need. This supports hunters in their passion and makes it easier for them to give back to their community. 

SCI members and partners have donated thousands of pounds of meat in 2021 to help those in need. It is critical looking forward to 2022 to work with state agencies and legislatures to expand quality food access through hunting donations. SCI extends a thank you to all those who have helped and will continue to work for hunters and everthing they provide to communities and conservation. We are blessed to be able to continue our hunting traditions and will work to bring in new hunters and share our benefits with others. 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! 

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