From National Shooting Sports Foundation
-- A new study commissioned by the National Shooting Sports Foundation and conducted by Mile Creek Communications reveals that last year 11 million meals were provided to the less fortunate through donations of venison by hunters.
Nearly 2.8 million pounds of game meat made its way to shelters, food banks and church kitchens and onto the plates of those in need.
The study revealed that donations were largest in the Midwest and the South. The Midwest provided 1.3 million pounds of game meat, amounting to 46.1 percent of total donations, with the South close behind at 1.25 million pounds and 45.7 percent.
The Northeast contributed 7.2 percent of total donations and the West 1 percent. Though lower than other regions, the West's contribution still accounted for 108,520 meals.
"Certainly the Midwest, South and Northeast benefit from having large populations of white-tailed deer," said Jim Curcuruto, NSSF director of statistics and research. "These figures are from confirmed sources, but annual donations could easily be double this amount if direct donations from hunters to friends and family are included."
Curcuruto added that NSSF commissioned the study to better understand the size and scope of these venison donations.
Groups often cooperate to ensure a successful donation program. In Georgia, according to the Athens Banner Herald, the Georgia Wildlife Federation pays for the meat to be butchered and packaged at state-licensed processors, the state Department of Natural Resources oversees the program and the Georgia Food Bank Association coordinates distributions. Additionally, the game meat satisfies shelters' need for nutritious food items. Dave Williams, who manages food resources for a northeast Georgia food bank, said in the Banner Herald that he is focused on acquiring more nutritious items and noted, "Deer venison is such a low-fat, high-protein item, agencies greatly appreciate getting it."
"Given our challenging economic times, hunters' donations of venison have never been more important to so many people," said Stephen L. Sanetti, president and CEO of NSSF. "These contributions are just one way hunting and hunters are important to our way of life in America. Learning about these impressive figures makes me proud to be a hunter. I have donated game meat during the past year, and I urge my fellow hunters to strongly consider sharing their harvest."
Individual hunters donate game meat and pay for processing, though many hunters choose to work with organizations dedicated to the cause of helping the hungry. Many of these groups were sources for the NSSF study and include Hunters for the Hungry, Farmers & Hunters Feeding the Hungry, Hunt to Feed and Buckmasters, among others.
For more information about groups active in various states visit http://www.nrahq.org/hunting/hungry_nat_list.asp.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 6,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen's organizations and publishers. For more information, log on to www.nssf.org.