Photo credit: Hidden Woods Media

15.8 million U.S. households are food-insecure. These hunger-fighting charities go beyond the traditional food drive to get food to those who really need it.

Hunters Target Hunger

Across the country, hunters are donating venison to their hungriest neighbors. Many groups bear the name Hunters Helping the Hungry and, though they are not affiliated with each other, they follow a similar model. Hunters bring their game to USDA-inspected meat processors. Depending on the organization, the processing fee is covered in full or partially subsidized for the hunter. From there, various charitable organizations pick up the meat and redistribute it within their communities. During the 2015-16 season, 437 Nebraska hunters contributed 23,374 pounds of venison-at 4 ounces per serving, that's over 93,000 meals served in just one state.

Hunters Helping the Hungry in New Jersey (where hunting plays a key role in managing the deer population) was started in 1997 by three hunters. It donated 500 pounds of venison that first season. In 2015-16, it donated 15,549 pounds.

Ending the Waste-Hunger Cycle

Denver Food Rescue is tackling two problems at once: hunger and food waste.

Every day, Turner Wyatt, the 26-year-old executive director of this nonprofit, mobilizes a rotating team of 100 volunteers. Mounted on bikes outfitted with trailers, they pick up around 1,000 pounds of perishable food from grocery stores that otherwise would end up in a landfill because it's not "pretty" enough to be sold or because a store gets in a new shipment. The cyclists then trek the food to 12 food-insecure Denver metro area communities, where it's distributed to organizations and neighborhood residents the same day it's delivered.

Bicycles are the preferred mode of transportation because they're less expensive and more environmentally friendly, especially when it comes to short, quick deliveries.

Dining Gracefully

Matt Weber is the chef and founder of Table Grace Cafe, a pay-what-you-can restaurant in Omaha, Nebraska. Diners from across the socioeconomic map-from business people to the homeless-come for lunch. The menu features soup, salad and pizza, with no set price tag. Some pay more, others less, and if you can't pay with money, then Weber asks that you donate a little time.

Table Grace is one of about 50 pay-what-you-can restaurants in the United States. With his training from the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City, ­Weber knew that good food could be a powerful tool to impact the most people. "Dining together builds bridges between different parts of our community and ­creates relationships that can be transformative."

Photo credit: Hidden Woods Media

November/December 2016