- News -
For Immediate Release
Greenville, Pa. – November 23, 2021 – As Pennsylvania’s November 27th firearms deer season opener approaches, hunters have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the hungry by donating deer via Hunters Sharing the Harvest this season.
Since 1991, Hunters Sharing the Harvest has channeled hunters’ donations of venison to the food-insecure via an integrated network of participating meat processors, area coordinators and regional food banks. These donations have provided more than 10 million servings of lean, high-protein venison to food-insecure Pennsylvanians.
“During the 2020-21 hunting seasons, HSH coordinated the delivery of a record 190,302 pounds of donated venison from 4,896 deer state-wide, providing over one million servings to those in need across the Commonwealth,” said Randy Ferguson, executive director. “This record amount was reached because people got involved and helped in various ways.”
To donate a deer, the hunter legally harvests, tags and field dresses the deer before taking it to a HSH-participating processor. He or she then completes a simple donor receipt. The donor can keep the antlers and cape if desired. The venison is processed into ground burger and made available to regional food banks for pickup. There is no cost to the hunter to donate a deer. A list of participating processors by county can be found on the HSH website, www.sharedeer.org.
Hunters Sharing the Harvest’s nationally emulated operating model works because it ensures that participating processors are paid for their services. Most processors could not afford to donate their services due to the high costs of materials and manpower. The funding for this reimbursement program comes from the support of individual and corporate donors and sponsors, public and private foundation support and budgetary allocations from key partner agencies like the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
“The PA Department of Agriculture is proud to support Hunters Sharing the Harvest and the generosity of Pennsylvania’s hunters,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “As part of the department’s efforts to help ensure that Pennsylvania families have access to safe, nutritious food, we are contributing $175,000 from state and federal food assistance funding to help defray the cost of processing donated venison this hunting season. Our dollars stretch the capacity of Feeding Pennsylvania and Hunger-Free PA to feed hungry families and multiply the generosity of hunters to put more food on more tables. Hunters, in the spirit of tradition, please donate freely this season. Together we can grow our charitable harvest and share our bounty with our neighbors in need.”
The Pennsylvania Game Commission provides significant funding support to HSH as well and works as a resource partner in communicating and advocating the sharing of harvested deer. With the availability of additional deer tags and the Deer Management Area Program (DMAP), Pennsylvania hunters have a resource to share extra deer that their family can’t consume in a year. This helps encourage more hunters to go afield more often and fill these extra tags where they might not have otherwise.
“Here at the Pennsylvania Game Commission, we work every day to promote hunting and trapping for current and future generations; that’s actually part of our official mission statement,” said Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans. “We are longtime, proud supporters of the Hunters Sharing the Harvest program, a hunter-inspired, grassroots network that collects venison from around the state to share with those in need. The program also highlights the importance of wildlife management and conservation, especially with the white-tailed deer, our state’s official animal. We are thankful for our Pennsylvania hunters who support conservation efforts in our state, as well as the hunters who donate venison to this meaningful program.”
Those who ultimately benefit from the HSH program are the food insecure. The average deer yields approximately 35-40 pounds of usable ground meat, which can provide more than 200 servings of lean, highly nutritious venison. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the need across the state and demand remains extremely high for donated food, especially fresh red meat.
“Hunters Sharing the Harvest has been an enormous asset to our member food banks throughout the state,” said Jane Clements, Chief Executive Officer of Feeding Pennsylvania, the state association of Feeding America food banks. “On behalf of Feeding Pennsylvania and the 2 million Pennsylvanians who are struggling with hunger, we couldn’t be more thankful for all of the hunters who donate to this program. Our partnership with HSH helps to provide healthy and nutritious meals to families across Pennsylvania who need it the most.”
“Hunger-Free Pennsylvania is proud to be a partner with Hunters Sharing the Harvest since 1991,” said Sheila Christopher, executive director. “With food cost skyrocketing, especially for high protein foods like venison, this partnership is most critical now more than ever.”
HSH is actively seeking participating butchers in many counties. The program’s growing popularity and expanded hunter participation, coupled with a contraction of this highly skilled industry due to generational, cost and workforce factors, has created a need for more qualified processors. These operations should be licensed or inspected by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture or the United State Department of Agriculture. Participating deer processors are reimbursed at an agreed-upon rate per deer. Once approved as a participating processor, they receive complete instructions, donor receipts, reimbursement forms, HSH-branded meat bags and material to promote their involvement with the program.
County coordinators are also needed in many counties without one presently. This key volunteer team represents HSH within their respective counties, informing the public and corporate sponsors of the various ways they can support HSH, and acting as a liaison between participating deer processors, hunters and food banks.
For more information, including the current list of participating processors in each county, ways to get involved as a deer processor, area coordinator, donor or sponsor, visit the HSH website, www.sharedeer.org, call 866-474-2141 (toll-free) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.