Hunger may be a problem that you frequently hear about in other countries, but it affects people right here in Missouri as well. Food banks provide relief for needy families on a regular basis, but as the holidays loom, the need for food donations increases. Although donations to food banks are often plentiful, the most typically given items are canned goods. While this is beneficial due to the fact that such items are non-perishable, it is much more difficult to meet the protein needs of individuals relying on these donations. It is because of this, along with the high cost of meat, that venison donation is so important.
The value of protein in the diet of all people is immeasurable. In the case of growing children, protein is vital for both growth and development. In the case of adults, protein provides assistance with maintaining continued good health. Protein is necessary for other purposes as well, such as building strong bones, cartilage, muscles, skin, blood, hormones, enzymes, and vitamins. Also provided by protein are calories and a longer lasting feeling of fullness and energy. Sadly many people facing economic hard times are missing out on these essential benefits.
This is where programs such as Missouri's Share the Harvest come into play. It is through the efforts of hunters and processors that hundreds of thousands of pounds of venison is shared with those who need it most, providing a protein source that is lean and healthy. If you feel this is a cause that calls to you, participating is not only easy, but also rewarding.
In order to make a venison donation, your deer will need to be taken to an approved processor. Although it is welcome, you do not have to donate the whole deer; you can choose a portion that works for you to be donated. When the deer is processed, that allotment will be set aside and packaged for distribution to charitable agencies, going to directly benefit those in need.
As a bonus, when you participate in this program and utilize approved processors, monies are distributed amongst processors via the Conservation Federation of Missouri. Processors are awarded these dollars on the basis of deer donated, which in turn makes processing prices lower for you, rewarding your generosity in kind. Other agencies are getting involved as well, such as Operation Food Search and the Denny Dennis Memorial Fund, which are helping to bring processing costs down or even eliminate them entirely.
On the other side of the coin, if you or someone you know could benefit from receiving venison protein, Share the Harvest is there to help. Any Missourian in need is able to participate simply by reaching out to a distribution agency and being approved for participation (which then must be recertified annually). Available venison is doled out based on supply, allowing families to get meat that would otherwise be unavailable to them. The supply of venison must be exhausted and fully distributed by May 1st.
If you wish to learn more about Missouri's Share the Harvest program, there is information on the MDC website. A list of approved processors can be found there as well.
Are you a participant in Share the Harvest? Let us know about your efforts and experience in the comments!