KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Hunters in Tennessee and Kentucky can help feed those in need by donating a harvested deer during deer season.

Each state has its own program, Kentucky Hunters for the Hungry (KHFH) and Tennessee Wildlife Federation’s Hunters for the Hungry. Both programs are working to alleviate hunger and malnutrition in their states by providing a healthy source of protein to those in need. Their missions also include offering hunters a way to help their communities and manage the local deer populations.

“Like agriculture, hunting is a Kentucky tradition that brings families and friends together to enjoy all that nature has to offer, each providing sustenance in its own way,” Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles said. “Hunters can make this special time of year even better by donating a deer or funds to provide help for others who may not be as fortunate as them.”

Both programs have partnered with wild game processors who will process the donated venison for free or at a reduced rate. The meat is then given to local food banks and soup kitchens. For hunters in Tennessee, click here to find an approved processor. For hunters in Kentucky, click here to find an approved processor.

“Helping fellow Kentuckians, whether it with daily food insecurities or during times of crisis encompasses the heart of the Kentucky Hunters for the Hungry organization,” said Roger LaPointe, Kentucky Hunters for the Hungry executive director. “The need has never been greater. Please consider donating a deer or if you don’t hunt, a monetary donation.”

KHFH runs also the “Kentucky Whitetail Access” program. This program matches hunters with landowners who need help controlling the deer population on their property. KHFH receives the deer harvested through this program, and processing is covered by Kentucky Farm Bureau and its participating partners. The venison will then be distributed to those in need. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources helped to create the program with KHFH.

In Tennessee, people can purchase Deer Coin to help the program continue to offer free deer processing. “Each year, Hunters for the Hungry provides tens of thousands of dollars to cover the cost of processing donated deer. This makes donating free to the hunter, but processing dollars can run out,” reads the TWF’s website. Hunters can pre-purchase a Deer Coin to cover the cost of processing one deer donated to the program. TWF added that the coins make good gifts to hunters who donate deer to the program.

TWF also runs the Hunger Challenge for high school students participating in Hunters for the Hunger. It is a competition where high school clubs compete to raise funds, secure venison donations and volunteer to help feed local hungry families. Awards are given each spring at the regional and state level. To find out more about the competition, click here.

Kentucky’s program was founded in 2000. In 2021, hunters donated 1,911 deer, resulting in 73,651 pounds of ground venison equating to about 294,604 meals. Tennessee’s program was founded in 1998 and since then more than 8.7 million servings of venison have been provided.