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Pennsylvania Hunters Encouraged to Donate Venison to Help Feed Hungry

November 21, 2017

Via PA.gov

Wolf Administration offers additional support to process even more donations

Harrisburg, PA – Thanks to record-breaking donations of deer meat from Pennsylvania hunters and a helping hand from the Wolf Administration, the state’s charitable food system will provide more than one half million servings of ground venison through food banks, soup kitchens, and pantries.

“Governor Wolf is pleased to support the outstanding volunteer efforts of Pennsylvania sportsmen and women who have donated their time and talents to provide deer meat to families facing hard times. Hunters Sharing the Harvest ensures that these generous gifts go to skilled processors who prepare high-quality venison for distribution throughout the charitable food system,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “Thousands of volunteers and donors across the state work together to provide healthy protein to nearly 1.7 million Pennsylvanians who are at risk of going hungry. I encourage all hunters to consider donating their deer and, if successful in the woods next week, I look forward to donating venison, too.”

Now in its 26th season, Hunters Sharing the Harvest (HSH) helps to coordinate the donation, processing, and distribution of venison to Pennsylvanians facing food insecurity. The Department of Agriculture partners with HSH to cover costs to process the meat, with the department increasing its share of financial support over the last two years in order to process even more donations.

Generous sportsmen and women set a new HSH record with a total donation of 2,947 deer during the 2016-17 season. The partnership covered costs to process 120,515 pounds of deer meat into 589,400 servings of venison for individuals and families. Because of the increased donations, an additional 20 meat processors have been recruited to help turn hunters’ donations into high-value protein for hungry families.

This year, the department will cover the service cost of more than 100 processors in 49 counties.

“Pennsylvania hunters have steadily increased their donations,” Redding added. “In recognition of that characteristic generosity, we are committing up to an additional $5,000 to help cover the costs of processing deer meat during the 2017-18 season. Together with Hunters Sharing the Harvest, Feeding Pennsylvania, and the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, we can make a difference for Pennsylvania families who struggle with hunger this winter.”

A non-profit charity, HSH links generous hunters, meat processors, and the charitable food system by managing the donation and distribution of deer meat throughout the state. The program has become a nationally-recognized model, with other states adopting Pennsylvania’s program to serve hungry families in their own states.

“Next week, hundreds of thousands of hunters will head for the woods. Each of them has an opportunity to combine their love of the outdoors and of hunting with a volunteer program that helps their neighbors and communities,” said HSH Executive Director John Plowman. “We are blessed by so many who provide time and energy to serve others – from our board members, volunteer coordinators and food banks, to our legislators, state, and local agencies. Everyone works together to help feed our neighbors in need.”

“The partnership between Hunger-Free Pennsylvania and Hunters Sharing the Harvest for the past 25 years has been instrumental in maintaining a steady supply of high protein, nutritious product through our network of 18 food banks and charitable food distribution organizations,” said Sheila Christopher, executive director of Hunger-Free Pennsylvania.

“On behalf of Feeding Pennsylvania and the nearly 1.7 million Pennsylvanians who are struggling with hunger every day, we are so grateful to all of the hunters who participate in the Hunters Sharing the Harvest program,” said Jane Clements-Smith, executive director of Feeding Pennsylvania. “Our partnership with HSH is essential to providing lean, nutritious meat to the families across Pennsylvania who need it most.”

The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank is the largest non-profit food distribution organization in central Pennsylvania. The food bank solicits, inventories, and distributes food and other donated products to more than 900 partner agencies (food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, senior programs, childcare programs, rehabilitative programs, etc.) that directly serve people struggling with hunger. The food bank annually distributes more than 40 million pounds of food and grocery products among 27 counties.

“Our food bank is proud to once again host Hunters Sharing the Harvest’s annual launch,” said Joe Arthur, executive director of the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. “We are one of the largest charitable distributors of HSH venison in our state, and we hope to share even more this year. We are always in need of lean, healthy protein foods for our clients, and donated venison is very popular here in the mid-state.”

Hunters interested in participating in the program can take their deer to one of participating meat processors throughout the state and donate any amount of their venison to the program. Pennsylvanians can also donate money to the Buck for the Pot campaign, which supports HSH.

For more information on Hunters Sharing the Harvest, visit www.sharedeer.org. For more information on the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, visit www.agriculture.pa.gov.

Click here to view the full press release.

MEDIA CONTACT: Bonnie McCann – 717.783.0133