Sharing the Harvest: How Hunters Can Help Feed the Hungry

Contact: Chris Horton, Senior Director, Midwestern States and Fisheries Policy; Nick Buggia, Upper Midwestern States Manager; Kent Keene, Senior Coordinator, Lower Midwestern States and Agriculture Policy        

Highlights

  • As many states enter the fall hunting season, hunters who may harvest more meat than they can reasonably consume should consider donating to a local game meat donation program.
  • Game meat donation programs allow hunters to share their harvests, ensuring that our nation’s public trust resources are fully utilized.
  • Through various national efforts and state-led programs, hunters provide millions of meals annually to those in need.
  • In addition to their support of conservation through the American System of Conservation Funding and their economic contributions to rural communities while participating in their outdoor endeavors, game meat donation programs represent another way in which our nation’s sportsmen and women benefit their communities.

Why it matters: While hunters and anglers are often credited as the original conservationists due to their historic contributions, including financially through the American System of Conservation Funding, advocating for science-based natural resource management, and through the sweat equity of their own on-the-ground efforts, the manner in which sportsmen and women give back does not end there. Through the availability of game meat donation programs, many sportsmen and women directly support their neighbors by providing a source of local, ethically harvested protein for those in need. As you prepare for the 2021 hunting, all sportsmen and women should explore game meat donation opportunities in their area.

Finally! We have reached that magical time of year when the time spent dialing in equipment, improving wildlife habitat, and saving up vacation days results in opportunities to get outside and do the things that we all love to do. In fact, some of you may have already left for your first big trip of the season. For those who haven’t, and for those who can read this while they’re already in the field or on the water, ponder this. What are you going to with your meat if you are successful?

Game meat is experiencing a renaissance of sorts thanks to an influx in outdoor media personalities who are promoting the consumption, as much as the harvest, of the animals that we pursue every year. For hunters, this is great news when considered within the context of the public opinion of our outdoor passion. In fact, recent research suggests that approximately 84% of the American public approves of hunting as a way to obtain natural, organic meat. Between a desire to consume the “groceries” that we harvest and the wanton waste laws that ensure nothing goes to waste, we can take pride in knowing that we are utilizing our public trust resources responsibly.

While we can pat ourselves on the back for our conservation – or “wise use” – ethic as it relates to the use of our harvest, hunters who have the means can truly be proud when participating in a game meat donation program. The programs allow hunters to donate the professionally processed fruits of their labor to those in need, effectively allowing hunters to act as providers in their community. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation is dedicated to working with our partners to remove state legislative hurdles to the creation of game meat donation programs. For more information on this topic, check out our state issue brief here.

Now, for those of you who are heading out this year, contact your state fish and wildlife agency and take a look at local opportunities to share your harvest and help feed the hungry. You will be glad you did.

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