COLLIERS TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Pennsylvania hunters donated a record 150,000 pounds of venison to Hunters Sharing the Harvest in 2018. That deer meat went to food banks throughout the state to feed families in need.
People gathered at the Colliers Sportsmen’s Association March 12 to celebrate the program’s success. It has grown immensely since its inception in 1991.
“Hunters Sharing the Harvest is a great illustration of what happens when public sector support and private generosity work together to solve a problem,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said.
But it’s more than just a way to feed people, said Sam Linton, a pastor at Log Church, in Pittsburgh.
For two families who lost their father, the venison reminded them of their dad and husband who used to hunt and bring home deer meat, Linton said. For elderly people who used to hunt, it was a reminder of their past beloved hobby.
“You can’t undercut the impact it’s making on an individual basis,” he said.
Hunters Sharing the Harvest allows hunters to donate deer meat to local food banks.
The hunters take their deer to participating processors. From there, the meat gets distributed to local food banks and food pantries. There are 127 butchers in the program, said John Plowman, executive director of Hunters Sharing the Harvest.
By the numbers
1 deer = 200 meals.
21 regional food banks distribute the venison to more than 5,000 local providers.
1.5 million pounds of venison have bene donated since 1991.
More than 4,000 deer were donated in 2018.
The yearly goal is at least 100,000 pounds of donated venison.
Source: Hunters Sharing the Harvest
It costs nothing for the hunters to donate deer. The program is funded through a combination of state-funding from the department of agriculture and the Pennsylvania Game Commission, corporate sponsors and other private donations.
The 2019 numbers are at about 118,000 pounds, Plowman said, but not all processors have reported their numbers yet, so it is likely higher than that.
Sheila Christopher, executive director of Hunger-Free Pennsylvania, said having venison as a fresh protein source for food banks is invaluable. It’s especially important for seniors, a growing population being served by food banks.
The partnership with Hunters Sharing the Harvest has been “instrumental with maintaining a steady supply of high-protein, nutritious product we could not possibly purchase in the open market,” she said.
(Reporter Rachel Wagoner can be contacted at 800-837-3419 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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