BUCKHANNON – For the past 30 years, West Virginia Hunters have helped deliver over one million pounds of venison to families and people in need statewide through the “Hunters Helping the Hungry” program.
This is the 30th year of the program sponsored by the Wildlife Section of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR). Through this program and several partnerships, they have been able to process approximately 27,500 deer since 1991.
Hunters Helping the Hungry is made possible through partnerships with hunters, financial contributors such as local businesses, churches and organizations, and local meat processors, in addition to the Mountaineer Food Bank and the Facing Hunger Foodbank . Hunters who participate in this program take their slaughtered deer to a participating meat processor who grinds, packages and freezes the venison before food banks collect the meat. The packaged meat is then distributed to families statewide through charity pantries, soup kitchens, senior centers, shelters, community centers, orphanages, missions, and churches. According to WV Wildlife Center director Trevor Moore, the DNR essentially acts as a liaison and organizer to provide hunters with the information they need as to what to do and where to bring their meat for donation. .
Participating processors in Upshur and surrounding counties include Waugh’s Custom Cutting in Upshur, Teets Meat Packing in Randolph, Syrews Custom Butchering in Lewis and B&L Beef in Barbour. It is advisable to call the processor to check availability before dropping a deer. There isn’t currently a processor in every county, but Moore noted he believed this was a possible target for the program.
Although this is an extremely generous and useful program, it has cost an average of $ 42,953.64 over the past 7 years. WV DNR is prohibited from using athlete license dollars to fund this program; therefore, it depends heavily on the generosity of individuals, businesses, conservation organizations, foundations and churches. The costs associated with the program vary each year depending on processing and distribution, the annual harvest and the number of deer donated.
In addition to donations, the WV DNR also organizes annual fundraisers to help cover the costs of this program. On the first Sunday in November, the West Virginia Council of Churches hosts the annual “Share the Harvest Sunday,” in which approximately 3,000 participating churches ask their congregation to contribute $ 1-5 (or whatever they want). wish) to the Hunters Helping the Hungry program. . This program, in addition to the “Governor’s One Shot Hunt,” an antlerless deer hunt that provides game and funding, are two of their biggest sources of funding, according to the WV DNR. If a church is interested in contributing to the program, they can contact the Mountaineer Food Bank at (304) 364-5518 or the MNR District 3 office at (304) 924-6211.
“I think it’s a great way for our hunters to help provide and interact with their communities using their hobby. A lot of people who need this meat from food banks can’t physically get it, so it’s an incredible service these hunters are doing to help the people of the state, ”added Moore.
By 2020, they had 17 participating processors and 500 donated deer, totaling 20,104 pounds of venison. Unfortunately, the program has seen a slight decline over the past three years, as there were 679 deer donated in 2019 and 685 in 2018.
If an individual, business, organization or church wishes to contribute to the Hunters Helping the Hungry program, monetary donations are accepted at any time by mail to: “Hunters Helping the Hungry, WV Division of Natural Resources, 163 Wildlife Road French Creek , WV 26218. Checks and money orders should be made payable to “Hunters Helping the Hungry”.
For more information on this valuable program, contact Trevor Moore at (304) 924-6211 or email at [email protected]