CHARLESTON – Gov. Jim Justice today presented a $50,000 check to go toward Mountaineer Food Bank in their efforts to feed West Virginia families in need through the Hunters Helping the Hungry program.
The check was courtesy of the “Governor’s One Shot Hunt” – an antlerless deer hunting event that provides a source of fundraising and venison for the Hunters Helping the Hungry (HHH) program.
Gov. Justice presented the check during a ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion.
“I’ve been a hunter all my life and I know our natural resources, like our deer, are phenomenal,” Gov. Justice said. “There are so many people who really enjoy hunting, but the appetite for venison might not be there. So we give them this incredible alternative.”
The HHH program, which is sponsored by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, provides thousands of pounds of venison to needy families across the state every year.
Hunters who decide to participate in the program take their deer to a participating meat processor, where the processor grinds, packages and freezes the venison. From there, participating food banks pick up the venison and distribute it to the needy through their statewide network of 600 charitable food pantries, soup kitchens, senior centers, shelters, community centers, orphanages, missions, and churches.
There is considerable interest in the program, but the DNR is restricted from using sportsmen’s license dollars to fund the program. Therefore, the DNR must rely on the generosity of concerned individuals, businesses, conservation organizations, foundations, and churches.
One of the largest sources of fundraising is the annual “One Shot” initiative. Now in its 12th year, the hunt has raised more than $650,000 in support of the HHH program. This year, the funds raised came out to $50,000.
Meanwhile, the HHH program itself has been around for 28 years. In that time, more than 26,000 deer have been brought in and more than 1 million pounds of venison have been processed, adding up to approximately 1.3 million meals worth of meat for families across West Virginia over nearly three decades.
“Lots and lots of people are really thankful,” Gov. Justice said. “We thank you so much for all you’re doing to make this a reality. I can’t do anything more than applaud you and tell you to keep it up. Even the deer are smiling.”