Thousands of Missouri deer hunters donated 289,292 pounds of venison to feed the hungry as part of the state’s program.
Nearly 5,600 whole deer were part of the donations, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC).
The program, called Share the Harvest, has continued annually since 1992. In the first year, about 3,000 pounds of venison were donated. Since then, the total of all donations rose to 4 million pounds.
This season saw a significant jump from the last year’s, when 198,277 pounds of venison were donated.
Over 100 meat processors helped grind the meat into ready-to-use packages. The packages are given to local food banks and food pantries that distribute it to needy Missourians.
“Hunters started Share the Harvest because they saw a need in their communities,” said MDC Director Sara Pauley in a release. “And hunters remain the driving force behind this popular program that helps feed our fellow Missourians who are in need. We sincerely thank the thousands of deer hunters who support Share the Harvest, along with the many participating meat processors and sponsors.”
To participate in the program, hunters take their deer to an approved meat processor and say how much they want to donate. Thanks to sponsors, the hunters may not have to pay processing fees, or they may be charged less if processing funds are available and they donate a whole deer.
“Be sure to contact individual processors to determine if funds are available,” MDC suggests.
The program only accepts venison from white-tailed deer legally taken in Missouri.