The spring-like weather enjoyed last weekend across the region had more than one person firing up the old barbecue on the patio to grill a burger or two. Thanks to the efforts of a local meat processor and the generosity of countless hunters,, patrons of the Scotland County Food Pantry continue to be able to enjoy those opportunities in 2020.
“Through the Share the Harvest program, we received approximately 500 pounds of venison for the Scotland county Food Pantry this year,” said volunteer Jack Sumption.
Sumption noted that amount is well done from past years, he credited the decline in a late change in the location of the donation site.
For years the service had been provided by the Rutledge Meat Market, which had voluntarily stored in excess of 3,000 pounds of venison each year for the food pantry to districbute from October well into the spring.
“The Rutledge Market was very gracious to keep venison in their freezers through our entire distribution season,” said Sumption. “We only run our Freezer a few days a month, from delivery day on Wednesday to Friday distribution. We only picked up enough each month to assure people could receive several pounds at each distribution. The venison would usually last till April or into May.”
This past fall the program was transition to Missouri Meat processing, also located near Rutledge.
“We were late coming into this transition,” said Sumption. “Plus it appears like the deer harvest overall was down quite a bit this year.”
Owner Calvin Hoover reported that Missouri Meat Processing processed 74 deer for the Share the Harvest program for more than one area food pantry. He indicated 74 deer were donated, averaging 47 pounds of ground burger per deer.
“It is my hope that we can encourage more hunters to donate their deer to Share the Harvest next season,” said Sumption. “We will also cooperate with Mr. Hoover to see what may be done to get more venison to our pantry in the coming years.”
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and the Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM) praised the efforts of thousands of Missouri deer hunters who donated 348,535 pounds of venison to the state’s Share the Harvest program this past deer season, including 6,795 whole deer.
MDC and CFM noted the efforts would not be possible without the more than 100 participating meat processors,, like Missouri Meat Processing of Rutledge, throughout the state who grind the donated deer meat into ready-to-use packages, and the many sponsors who financially support the program.
Meat-processing fees are covered entirely or in part by numerous local sponsors, along with statewide sponsors that include: Shelter Insurance, Bass Pro Shops, Gateway Area Chapter Safari Club International, Missouri Chapter National Wild Turkey Federation, Midway USA Inc., Missouri Food Banks Association, and MDC.
The donated deer meat goes to local food banks and food pantries to help feed hungry Missourians all around the state. To get Share the Harvest venison, contact local food banks or food pantries.
Share the Harvest is coordinated by MDC and CFM. Since the program was started in 1992, it has provided more than 4.3 million pounds of lean, healthy venison to help feed hungry Missourians, including this past season’s donations.
“Hunters started Share the Harvest because they saw a need in their communities and hunters remain the driving force behind this popular program that helps feed our fellow Missourians who are in need,” said MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley. “We sincerely thank the thousands of deer hunters who support Share the Harvest, along with the many participating meat processors and sponsors who help make it possible.”
CFM Executive Director Tyler Schwartze added, “We greatly appreciate the hunters, processors, and sponsors for their support of Share the Harvest. The donated venison stays in the local areas where the deer were harvested so it truly is helping out neighbors in need.”
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 can’t afford or can’t get to good sources of protein. Through Share the Harvest, Missouri hunters can help provide those in need with high-quality protein in the form of naturally lean, locally harvested deer meat.
For more information on Share the Harvest, visit CFM online at confedmo.org/programs/outreach/share-the-harvest/