Many Missourians need help with putting meat on the dinner table. Deer hunters can assist by sharing their harvests through Missouri’s Share the Harvest program, which connects deer hunters with hungry Missourians through participating meat processors and local hunger-relief agencies around the state.
To participate, hunters simply take their harvested deer to one of more than 130 participating meat processors and let them know how much venison they wish to donate to the program. Hunters can give a few pounds to a whole deer. The processor will package the ground meat, which will be given to local charitable agencies for distribution to hungry Missourians.
The program is administered by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and the Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM).
The National Institutes of Health state that children need protein in their diets for proper growth and development, and adults need it to maintain good health. Yet many Missourians and their families can’t afford or can’t get good sources of protein. Deer meat, or venison, is a local source of much needed lean protein.
“Conservation makes Missouri a great place to hunt for more than 500,000 deer hunters who harvest more than 200,000 deer each year,” said MDC Director Bob Ziehmer. “By sharing part of their harvest, these deer hunters can help feed many hungry Missourians in their communities.”
Since 1992, Missouri hunters have donated more than 3.1 million pounds of venison to the needy through Share the Harvest. In 2013, nearly 4,500 hunters donated more than 227,000 pounds of venison.
“Throughout history, hunters have provided for their communities,” said CFM Director Brandon Butler. “Share the Harvest continues that tradition. Hunters who donate a deer to the Share the Harvest program are making a positive impact in the lives of their fellow Missourians.”
Funds are available to help with processing costs when a whole deer is donated during all portions of the archery and firearms deer seasons. CFM reimburses processors a predetermined amount for each whole deer donated. This allows processors to reduce processing fees to hunters.
Statewide sponsors of the cost-reduction program include MDC, CFM, Shelter Insurance, Bass Pro Shops, Missouri Chapter of Safari Club International, Missouri Chapter of National Wild Turkey Federation, Midway USA Inc., Missouri Food Banks Association, United Bowhunters of Missouri, Missouri Trappers Association and Missouri Hunter Education Instructors Association.
In addition, many processors have local money available that allows deer to be processed for free or at reduced cost. The processing fee for the deer is the hunter’s responsibility when local funds to help cover the full cost are not available. Be sure to contact individual processors to determine if local funds are available.