Hunters Harvesting for the Holidays: Game Meat Donation Programs Can Fill Tables This Thanksgiving & Beyond

Contact: Bob Matthews, Senior Coordinator, Upper Midwestern States

  • Donating game meat such as venison is an effective way to distribute surplus meat to those in need when a hunter harvests more than they can eat themselves.
  • In America, public perceptions of hunting remain extremely positive when the procurement of meat is the primary motivation for the harvest of wild game. Game meat donation programs help to educate others on this component of the sportsman ethic while sharing the benefits of the harvest.
  • The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) supports legislation that expands the ability of sportsmen and women to share their delicious harvests with those in need.

Why It Matters: Sportsmen and women are greatly responsible for the many American conservation successes through their funding of state agencies, an important role in wildlife population management. However, the contributions of sportsmen and sportswomen do not end with conservation funding. With the holiday season approaching, game meat donation programs serve as an opportunity for hunters to share their harvest and provide yet another service to society.

Across the Midwest, trophy bucks are chasing does while sportsmen and women are finally using all those hard-earned vacation days that they’ve been saving up to get out in the field. From their deer blinds, hunters can enjoy their passion for the woods and field while passing that passion on to their children. However, their outdoor heritage is not all that can be shared from these hunts. In many states, fish and wildlife agencies, non-profit organizations, and participating game processors work with hunters to allow game meat to be donated to those in need. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, these game meat donation programs are another opportunity for hunters to demonstrate the immense value that our time-honored traditions offer to society.

In 2020, the Missouri State Legislature unanimously passed the widely supported HB 1711, which expanded game meat donation opportunities in the state by allowing foods like snack sticks and jerky to be donated along with perishable game meat. In 2021, CSF supported the passage of HB 2213 in Texas, which allowed game meat from legally harvested exotic species to be donated. CSF will continue to support the expansion of game meat donation programs, as well as liability exemptions for such programs, so that hunters may continue their outdoor pursuits feeding not only their own families but others as well.

Below is a list of established game meat donation programs that may allow you to feed a family in need this holiday season:

States Involved

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