If you are reading this, chances are you are a hunter who is caring, community-minded and may be willing to donate one or more of the deer you harvest this season to feed the hungry in Maryland through Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry (FHFH). Or perhaps you are interested in spending some time as a volunteer contact or coordinator to help develop the FHFH program.
In the past, most venison donations would cost the donor the fee of processing the meat, but now FHFH provides the funding to pay the entire cost for the processing of donated deer. The participating meat processors are charging a special discounted fee to process donated deer and FHFH pays this fee for you. The average deer yields 50 pounds of meat. This comes to $1.00 per pound or about 25 cents per serving. The retail costs of the same cuts of beef are $2-$5 dollars per pound. FHFH collects cash donations from churches, foundations, businesses and individuals and will pay approved deer processors to process the deer that you bring to them during Maryland's bow, muzzleloader and firearms seasons and from time to time will also process deer farmers take under the terms of their Deer Damage Permit.
Food banks tell us that meat is their least available food item due to the high cost ($2-$5 per pound for beef) and that they gratefully accept venison donations. Venison is a nutritious, low fat, high protein meat that is distributed and/or cooked by hundreds of Maryland community organizations such as church pantries, Salvation Army, community food banks, church feeding ministries, emergency assistance programs and children's homes.
You can donate your deer to the program and have that venison end up on the tables of less fortunate people in Maryland. All it takes is for you to field dress and take the legally tagged deer to your nearest participating meat processor.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources fully supports venison donation programs, such as the one provided by FHFH. Since 1997, hunters and farmers have donated over 600 tons of venison, resulting in over 4.8 million meals being served to those less fortunate. To find out more information about FHFH, how to make a cash contribution, or how to become a volunteer contact or coordinator, you can communicate directly with the organization by visiting their website at www.fhfh.org