January 22, 2004

Local Groups Join Together To Share the Harvest With Needy Families

Have a good recipe for venison? There are numerous families in Scotland County that likely will be looking for methods to prepare the game after nearly 3,600 pounds of deer meat was donated to the needy through the Share The Harvest program.

The Scotland County Rotary Club heads a local partnership that helped pay for processing a total of 80 deer donated to the project by area hunters.

The community effort got a huge boost from Rutledge Meat Processing. After experiencing increases in numbers each year the Rotary Club contributed $1,500 to the project to pay for the processing of up to 50 deer. But hunters quickly filled that quota and continued to bring in more and more deer to donate.

“The hunters kept bringing the deer in and donating the venison,” stated a representative of the locker. “We sure didn’t want to turn them away and let all that meat go to waste when there are so many people around that can use it.”

By the time the archery deer season came to a close last week the processing plant had turned a total of 80 deer into hamburger, meaning as much as 3,600 pounds of venison was going to help feed families in Scotland County.

The Rotary Club enlisted the aid of the Northeast Missouri Community Action Agency to help distribute the meat.

Throughout the winter Rotarians travel between Rutledge and the NMCAA facility in Memphis to keep the freezers filled with packages of deer hamburger to be handed out on the organization’s food distribution days.

“I picked up two van loads in December and we had another load of deer meat delivered today for the distribution date,” said NMCAA director Beverly Talbert. “Traditionally we don’t get a lot of meat to distribute so this is great. The people really like it.”

Talbert said the project has been so successful this year that the organization has been able to double the amount of meat that is handed out to each recipient.

The Conservation Federation and its partners (MDC, Shelter Insurance and Bass Pro) will reimburse processors $35 to process a whole deer donated to the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Share the Harvest venison donation program. Hunters who donate an entire deer will complete a voucher provided by their processor. The hunter’s bill is automatically reduced by $35. At the end of the season, processors send the vouchers to the Conservation Federation office for reimbursement.

It’s easy to donate meat through this program. Hunters take their venison to an approved processing plant and simply tell the processor how much venison they wish to donate. The processor then packages and stores the meat until it’s transported to a charitable agency by the sponsor. Agencies which receive the meat will distribute it to ensure that all venison is used when and where it serves its greatest need.

This marks the fifth year the Rotary Club has sponsored the program in Scotland County. MDC initiated Share the Harvest across Missouri in 1992.

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