By Chad Morrison
With hunting season just around the corner, hundreds of thousands of hunters in West Virginia are preparing to head into the woods. Hunting, obvious to any native West Virginian, has always been an important part of our culture here in the Mountain State. Many do this for sport, to connect to our ancestors or teach a new generation where food really comes from.
What if I tell you that hunting can also help those in need? With nearly 268,070 people struggling with hunger in West Virginia, we at Mountaineer Food Bank are encouraging hunters to combine their love of the outdoors with the Hunters Helping the Hungry program.
Now in its 28th season, the program has become vital in our effort to help West Virginians struggling with hunger. The program, with the aid of the Governor’s One Shot Committee, coordinates the donation, processing and distribution of venison through participating meat processors all over the state.
The venison that is received by the Mountaineer Food Bank and Facing Hunger Foodbank is distributed through a network of feeding programs in West Virginia. This is all done with no cost to the hunter or the West Virginia tax payer. Instead, the Governor’s One Shot program covers the entire cost of the program through privately raised funds.
In 2018, hunters once again stepped up to the challenge, donating 685 deer to the program, resulting in 24,378 pounds of venison. Overall, hunters have donated 26,387 deer, or nearly 1.4 million meals, to families and individuals throughout West Virginia. Point blank, that is a lot of meals for West Virginia families.
With protein being one of our biggest needs here at the Mountaineer Food Bank, we can’t express enough how big of an impact this program has on families and individuals struggling to put food on the table.
Without partnerships like these, it is a struggle to provide lean, nutritious commodities to those who need it most across our state. Instilling a balanced, healthy diet is important to everyone. That is why we are asking for hunters and everyone fortunate to be able to provide for their family to step up to the challenge this holiday season.
This partnership, with generosity of West Virginia’s hunters, is essential to giving back to our friends and neighbors who have fallen on hard times. We’re proud to be partnered with this program for another year, and we hope to exceed last year’s donation of 24,378 pounds of venison.
We are thankful for our partners, the Governor’s One Shot Committee, the West Virginia Department of Agriculture and the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources.
We are even more appreciative of our hunters. If you participated last year, we thank you for stepping up to make a difference.
New hunters interested in donating can designate their deer to a participating meat processor, or can help by making a financial donation to the program. For more information, visit www.wvdnr.gov/Hunting/HHH. Our partners and the Mountaineer Food Bank stand ready to assist you.
(Chad Morrison is the executive director for Mountaineer Food Bank.)