- News -
Greenville, PA – June 21, 2023 – Pennsylvania deer hunters fed the hungry in historic fashion during the 2022-23 hunting season – donating a total of 235,532 pounds of venison from 6,201 deer and four elk via Hunters Sharing the Harvest – Pennsylvania’s nationally emulated venison donation program. The season totals were announced by HSH executive director Randy Ferguson during the Pennsylvania Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Reception at Tavern on the Hill in Enola on June 13.
Reflecting a nearly 25% increase, the recent season numbers eclipsed the previous record of 190,302 pounds from 4,896 deer donated during the 2020-21 hunting season.
“Pennsylvania deer hunters continue to astound us with their generosity and selflessness,” said Ferguson. “When that hunter generosity is combined with the efforts of our participating processors, area coordinators and financial supporters around the state, we have an extremely effective mission. And this is what we’re seeing in these historic donation numbers.”
Based on the American Heart Association’s recommended serving size of three ounces of lean red meat per serving, the 235,532 pounds of venison donated during the 2022-23 season provided approximately 1.25 million servings of lean, high protein venison to the food insecure in Pennsylvania this year.
“We are proud and excited to have reached this important milestone,” said Bill Sordoni, chairman of the HSH board of directors. “With strong leadership, a clear vision for our future and the growing support of a tremendous network of hunters, processors, volunteers and partners, we believe the impact of the HSH mission will continue to grow in the years to come.”
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has been a key supporting partner with HSH for many years, providing a substantial annual allocation of state and federal hunger relief funds to help HSH defray the costs associated with reimbursing participating processors for their services.
“Protein-rich meats are often difficult for families on tight budgets to afford,” Pennsylvania Agriculture Russell Redding said. “The generous donations of hunters stretch the dollars of cash-strapped families and the food pantries that serve them. The department is pleased to support the generosity of Pennsylvania’s hunters and the important work of Hunters Sharing the Harvest.”
As part of the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s herd management goals, deer hunters can harvest several deer in a year with appropriate tags. HSH provides an opportunity for hunters who might typically only harvest one or two deer for their family’s consumption to fill more tags, donating additional deer to help those in need in their community. This hunter participation helps the PGC achieve its objectives while performing a worthy act of social service.
“Year after year, Pennsylvania hunters donating venison through the Hunters Sharing the Harvest program do a world of good for Pennsylvania’s hungry, and last year took things to a new level,” said Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans. “Their generosity made big differences for countless people, all while enjoying the outdoors and helping to manage the state’s deer herd, benefitting wildlife conservation.”
The HSH program is a coordinated effort of nearly 100 participating deer processors who accept donated deer from hunters and process the deer into one-, two- and five-pound packages of ground venison for distribution to regional food banks and food pantries.
Shea Saman, CFO and Interim CEO, Feeding Pennsylvania commented, “We at Feeding Pennsylvania are so proud of our partnership with Hunters Sharing the Harvest. Nearly two million Pennsylvanians struggle with hunger every year, and we are always in need of more nutritious food to provide to our network of food banks across PA. We congratulate Hunters Sharing the Harvest on their record-setting 2022-2023 year, and all the hunters that helped to contribute over 6,200 deer, which equated to more than 235,000 pounds – over 1 million servings – of venison for our neighbors in need.”
In its 32 years of operation, HSH has delivered 2.2 million pounds of hunter-donated venison, providing over 10 million servings to food insecure Pennsylvanians.
“On behalf of Pennsylvania’s food bank network, Hunger-Free Pennsylvania thanks our state’s deer hunters for sharing their harvest in record numbers,” said Sheila Christopher, executive director of Hunger-Free Pennsylvania. “Hunger relief organizations are in desperate need of lean, nutritious protein sources for their recipients. Venison is one of the very best of these proteins and is so appreciated by those who receive it.”
Hunters interested in donating a deer need only to legally harvest, tag and field dress the deer and take it to a participating processor near them. The list of participating processors by county can be found at https://sharedeer.org/meat-processors/.
HSH is actively seeking participating processors to augment its efforts in counties throughout Pennsylvania. Participating processors are reimbursed for their services and are the cornerstone of the HSH mission.
A volunteer force of nearly 60 county coordinators ensures that processors have the resources they need and that the public is aware of the program and the ways they can support the HSH mission. A list of county coordinators is available at https://sharedeer.org/area-coordinators/. Individuals interested in being a coordinator are encouraged to contact Ferguson at 866-474-2141 or by emailing him at email@example.com.
“Our network of area coordinators across the Commonwealth is the boots-on-the-ground, grassroots team that helps us spread word of the HSH mission, recruit and interface with our participating processors and secure new deer donors and financial supporters,” said Ferguson. “We need an HSH participating processor in reasonable distance of every hunter wishing to donate a deer. If you are a deer processor or know of on near you that might want to be a part of HSH, I’d like to discuss welcoming them onboard with HSH.”
Businesses wishing to support the mission of Hunters Sharing the Harvest are encouraged to become a sponsor. HSH offers multiple levels of sponsorship to fit any organization’s budget. These supporting sponsors are a crucial source of operational support for the organization.
Those who do not hunt or who do not have extra deer to donate can support Hunters Sharing the Harvest with a monetary donation of any amount through the Buck for the Pot program. Donations can be made online at https://sharedeer.org/support-our-mission/.
More information on Hunters Sharing the Harvest can be found at www.ShareDeer.org.