Having a belly full of a warm meal is a wonderful feeling. At the end of a long, hard day, we look forward to having a hot dinner waiting at home. As we sit down to that meal, we may sometimes dine without giving much thought to how lucky we are to have that food on the table. Whether it is venison on which we are dining or something else, the fact of the matter is that we are lucky to have food on the table, and there are many others who cannot say the same. That is where Share the Harvest comes into the picture.
For many years Share the Harvest has been stepping up to the plate to feed those in need in Missouri. The program is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and the private organization, Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM), who together are working diligently to see that venison is shared amongst Missouri residents to alleviate hunger. The way the program works is that when a Missouri hunter harvests a whitetail deer, the meat can then be donated where it is put to good use via dispersal to those who need food most but for whatever reason are unable to secure it on their own.
Photo: Missouri Department of Conservation
Through this program, harvested deer are brought by Missouri hunters to meat processors for donation. In the past, these hunters were responsible for covering the cost of processing, but that is currently not the case. Having realized that this additional expense can be a bit of a strain on some wallets, an arrangement has been made to cover the cost without the hunter having to come out of pocket. Share the Harvest covers a portion of the cost with Operation Food Search paying for the remainder. As funding through these avenues is exhausted, the Denny Dennis Memorial Fund will step in to keep processing free for donating hunters in the Missouri Department of Conservation's St. Louis region. This includes the counties of Crawford, Franklin, Jefferson, Lincoln, St. Louis, St. Charles, and Warren and a list of processing options can be found here. This processing savings can in turn be applied to an antlerless deer permit with which hunters can pursue a deer for donation purposes should they so choose.
Share the Harvest typically turns venison into ground meat and distributes it to families in need in that form. Any Missouri resident in need can take advantage of this program in order to get meat with which to feed their family. All they have to do is contact a distributing agency which will then allocate venison in accordance with supply and demand. To put this into perspective, a total of 3,967 hunters participated in Share the Harvest during the year 2014 and together they were able to accumulate a total of 213,443 pounds of meat which was given to families in need.
It is easy to take the little things in life for granted, such as the food we eat every day. Donating a deer or even a portion of a deer is a rewarding gesture that will make you feel good and go a long way towards feeding those struggling in a day and time when struggles are plentiful. Plus, you never know how life will treat you and when you might find yourself in the shoes of a receiver instead of a giver and it can't hurt to have a little bit of good karma on your side. Should you be interested, more information can be found on the MDC website. You can also call the Conservation Federation of Missouri at 573-634-2322.
Have you made a donation to Share the Harvest this year or in years past? Do you plan to participate in the future? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.