The Show Me State's Share the Harvest Program is a huge success!
The Missouri Department of Conservation says those numbers included 6,795 whole deer. Approximately 100 meat processors participated in the state's Share the Harvest program that has been run by the MDC and Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM) since 1992.
Each deer season, meat processors around the state help grind and package the extra venison which is then donated to food pantries and local food banks to help feed hungry Missouri residents.
"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," MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley said in a news release. "We sincerely thank the thousands of deer hunters who support Share the Harvest, along with many participating meat processors and sponsors who help make it possible."
The partial or full cost of processing all that healthy venison is covered by sponsors like the Missouri Chapter National Wild Turkey Federation, Bass Pro Shops, Midway USA Inc, the Gateway Area Chapter Safari Club International, the Missouri Food Banks Association and many more smaller, local sponsors. Missouri hunters can also donate funds directly to the program through CFM's website. Funds go to reimbursing processing fees.
The share-harvest program has proven to be extremely popular with CFM also hosting a photo contest in conjunction with the program every hunting season. This year's winner got a new hunting blind as the top prize. Hunters can donate all or part of their deer meat when dropping the animal off at participating processors. Since the program's humble beginnings, hunters and approved processors have been responsible for donating nearly 4.3 million pounds of venison to the program.
"We greatly appreciate the hunters, processors and sponsors for their support of Share the Harvest," CFM Executive Director Tyler Shwartze said in a press release. "The donated venison stays in the local area where the deer were harvested so it truly is helping out neighbors in need."