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So how did this program get started? 

September 24, 2011 – Matthews, N.C. – HuntersForHungry.com is established to support the growing number of North Carolina families in need of quality nourishment.  The voluntary exchange program began shortly after opening season of bow hunting in central North Carolina.  Avid bow hunter David Schwartz harvested his first deer and while sharing his exciting news with his wife Michelle he was quickly reminded how she did not want a freezer full of venison.  David was feeling a bit frustrated having spent the entire summer reviewing trail cam photos with his son Austin (12) and daughter Morgan (11) both of whom are hunter safety certified and enjoy hunting with a crossbow.

Although David was the only family member fortunate enough to harvest a deer so quickly into the season Austin and Morgan were very anxious to experience the thrill of the harvest.  However, now they had a bit of a challenge to overcome.  What were they going to do with the additional deer that they may be fortunate enough to harvest through the end of they year.  In North Carolina each hunters is permitted a total of 6 deer throughout the season.  The processing fees alone can be in excess of $75 depending on how it is processed.  Having thought about it over the evening David decided to place an ad on Craig’s List for “Free Whole Deer” within one hour of posting the ad David received over 20 responses and within three hours just prior to Craig’s List removing the ad David received over 35 responses from people within the Charlotte area.  The responses via e-mail and telephone were so moving and immediate David felt like he needed to do something about this. 

There are many programs throughout the state and nation that will actually pay for the processing of a donated deer through participating professional meat processors.  Within our state there is the North Carolina Hunters For The Hungry and Farmers and Hunters Feeding The Hungry but the challenge with these programs is that there simply are not enough participating meat processors throughout the state.  As a resident of Matthews for example David would need to travel more than an hour to a participating processor.  Having participated for years with a donation program in Maryland David never got to meet the families who were the beneficiaries of his harvest either.  He was really looking for a way that would positively promote hunting and connect the hunter directly with the family in need. 

After researching the regulations and speaking with a local North Carolina Wildlife Officer David decided to leverage his skills in technology to connect hunters (donors) directly with families in need.  The program is super simple, which is critical for everyone.  Simply register as a hunter or donor and when a hunter is ready to make an exchange he or she clicks the “Participants” tab and sorts the list by county to find the nearest recipient.  David has already donated two deer to families in the area and was able to establish the exchange prior to even leaving the woods.  It was so efficient and the families were so grateful.  The experience for my family was absolutely incredible. 

Within just a couple of months of launching the initial site Christopher Smashe, President of Excel On The Web, contacted David and offer to donate his skills as a web developer to redesign the site and build the infrastructure to support a national effort.

And so phase 2 of our efforts began April 1, 2012.