Ozark Outdoors

‘Share the Harvest’ provides venison helps feed hungry Missourians

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Missouri's 'Share the Harvest' program helped distribute more than 4.500 pounds of venison in 2015.

Since 1992, Missouri’s ‘Share the Harvest’ program helped has provided more than 3.5 million pounds of lean, healthy venison to help feed hungry Missourians. In 2015 alone, 4,500 deer hunters donated more than a quarter-million pounds of venison from last season’s deer harvest.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is again encouraging deer hunters in the Ozarks and around the state to share their harvest through the state’s “Share the Harvest” program. In 2015 along, more than 4,500 deer hunters donated at least a quarter-million pounds of venison from last season’s deer harvest. Since the program was started in 1992, Share the Harvest has provided more than 3.5 million pounds of lean, healthy venison to help feed hungry Missourians.

Administered by MDC and the Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM), Share the Harvest coordinates the efforts of thousands of deer hunters, about 100 participating meat processors, numerous local supporting organizations, and a handful of statewide sponsors to package and distribute the venison.

The program works by deer hunters donating their extra venison – from several pounds to whole deer – to participating meat processors throughout the state who grind and package the deer meat. The packaged venison is then given to food banks and food pantries for distribution to Missourians in need of food assistance.

A white-tailed doe in the Ozarks.

A white-tailed doe in the Ozarks. Since 1992, Missouri’s Share the Harvest program has offered deer hunters the opportunity to share their venison through participating meat processors.

Processing fees are covered entirely or in part by numerous local sponsors, along with statewide sponsors that include: MDC, CFM, Shelter Insurance, Bass Pro Shops, Gateway Area Chapter of Safari Club International, Missouri Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Midway USA Inc., and the Missouri Food Banks Association.

Funds are available to help with processing costs when a whole deer is donated during all portions of the archery and firearms deer seasons. The Conservation Federation of Missouri reimburses processors a pre-determined amount for each whole deer donated. This allows processors to reduce processing fees to hunters. In addition, many processors have local funds available that allow deer to be processed for free or at a reduced cost. Hunters should contact individual processors to determine what funds are available. The cost of processing is the hunter’s responsibility when funds to help cover the full cost are not available.

Find participating processors in the MDC “2016 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information” booklet available where permits are sold, online at huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/hunting-trapping/species/deer/deer-share-harvest, or by calling MDC at 573-751-4115 or the Conservation Federation of Missouri at 573-634-2322.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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