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Group distributes 900 pounds of venison

Steve Ferris, Eagle Staff Writer, Butler Eagle

Hunters Sharing the Harvest (HSH) distributed 900 pounds of ground venison and 50 turkeys Monday to county food banks and churches that provide meals to those in need.

The venison, which comes from deer harvested during municipal deer reduction programs approved by the Pennsylvania Game Commission, is one of the main sources of meat that Moniot’s Praise Full Gospel Fellowship in Butler provides to the 160 families it serves.

Fifty turkeys donated by the Butler Eagle were also distributed from the HSH freezer at Trinity Lutheran Church.

“They help us out a great deal,” said Connie Moniot. “This is one of our main sources of meat.”

The organization received 130 pounds of venison and three turkeys.

HSH distributed more than 7,000 pounds of venison before the day began and will distribute the rest of the 9,186 pounds of venison they have at future distributions, said Tom Rossman, state coordinator for the western region based in Butler County. He and Charles Schmitzer IV handed out the venison and turkeys Monday.

It cost HSH $16,000 to have processors grind and prepare the 9,186 pounds of venison. Processors charge an average of $70 per deer, Rossman said.

The pantries and churches that receive venison don’t pay for it, but some make donations to the program. He said $700 was donated Monday.

According to HSH, a deer provides 200 meals and every $25 donated allows 100 meals to be served. In 2016, HSH reached its milestone of having provided 1 million pounds of venison.

The meat is needed more than ever due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It comes at a crucial time. People we’ve never seen before are reaching out,” said Sylvia Walters of Feed My Sheep Food Cupboard in Slippery Rock.

Walters and fellow volunteer Stan Kendziorski picked up 96 pounds of venison and a turkey for the 150 families the cupboard serves in the northern part of the Slippery Rock Area School District.

“The community has been great with donations,” Kendziorski said.

Chance Christy picked up 312 pounds of venison for First United Methodist Church in Butler. Some of the venison will be served at the community meals the church serves every Friday evening and some will be added to a food drive the church and the YMCA are holding.

Food donated for the drive will be distributed to city residents who do not drive on May 23.

“This is for both the meals and the food drive,” Christy said.

She said her husband, Ray Christy, who runs the kitchen for the community meals, likes cooking with venison.

“It works great. It has good flavor,” she said.