Arlington family-owned deer meat processing shop provides meals for the hungry

Local Good News

ARLINGTON, Tenn. ( – Dave’s Deer Processing is partnering with the Tennessee Wildlife Federation program “Hunters for the Hungry.” The program started in 1998 and has provided more than 7 million meals to families in need.

For the past five years, Melissa and David Payne have been taking deer meat donations to turn into ground meat for families in need. Melissa said she and her husband take pride in providing quality meat that is nutritious. 

“Why would you expect someone to eat something that you wouldn’t eat or that I wouldn’t feed my children or my family?” Melissa said. 

They ground the meat like hamburger meat, so it can be used for a variety of meals.

“Anything you buy ground beef with when you go to the grocery,” Melissa said. “Spaghetti, tacos, nachos, lasagna, I mean anything.”

She said even though deer hunting season is only half way over, they have received a lot of donations. Melissa said they work hard to make sure the meat is best quality. 

“These families, a lot of families, that might not have such quality food get to have good meals,” Melissa said. 

She said people even ask her and her husband about how they can get involved with the program. Matt Simcox, manager of the “Hunters for the Hungry” program, said the hunters who participate in this program always feel great that they can help while doing something they enjoy. 

“Deer hunters get to do something they are passionate about, they get to harvest these animals, and they get to donate them,” Simcox said. “Every deer that’s donated will provide at least 168 servings to the less fortunate.”

The deer meat donations given to the Payne’s are then given to the Mid-South Food Bank. Melissa said she her heart is always full when she knows she can provide a good meal anyone in need. 

“I feel that giving these families quality meat is very important for their health, for their families, for everything,” Melissa said.

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