Have you ever had more venison than you could use?
With the number of regular deer tags, antlerless deer tags and DMAP antlerless deer tags that are available to hunters, certainly some hunters get more deer than they need or want. Often the extra venison is shared with family or friends. Sometimes hunters accumulate so much venison in their freezers that some of it becomes freezer burned.
Allowing healthy meat to spoil in a freezer is a shame. Even sharing with family or friends is not always good use of venison. Some people accept venison to be polite even though they may not actually want it.
More important than any of the above scenarios, there are many people who could really use that venison. Venison might be the only good meat some people have to eat, if only they had a way to get the venison.
There is a way.
Hunters Sharing the Harvest has been connecting deer harvested by hunters with families in need of food since 1991, but here in Warren County we are currently without the chain of hunters who are willing to donate venison, a county coordinator, licensed meat processors, a food bank and a local charity to distribute processed venison to those who need it.
Dining in Farmington recently with a group that included John Plowman, who is Executive Director of HSH, I was disappointed to learn that Warren County is one of just a few Pennsylvania counties that are not part of HSH. Currently 54 county coordinators are listed on the HSH web site.
One in every 11 people in Pennsylvania are in need of food assistance, including several close to our homes.
There is no excuse for anyone to go hungry in this country. Countless volunteers try to make sure than no one does. Yet some people still are at risk of going hungry. Deer hunters can do their part in the battle against hunger by donating to HSH.
HSH channels venison from approved deer processors to food banks, food pantries and charitable hunger relief organizations which distribute it to families and individuals at risk of hunger. During a typical year the goal of HSH is to get about 100,000 pounds of processed venison to this state's 21 regional food banks which distribute the venison to more than 4,000 local provider charities which in turn get the venison to those who need it.
To call HSH successful is a huge understatement. This program is a model that is being copied by several other states.
Once the mechanism is in place, getting venison to those who need it is easy. Hunters take deer they harvest to cooperating meat processors who collect a $15 co-pay from the hunters. The co-pay is tax deductible. HSH pays the processor their quoted rate per deer as per agreement.
Some meat processors have been donating services or have offered a reduced rate.
A county coordinator and cooperating meat processors are in need here in Warren County. Especially needed are meat processors with The whole system is set up to make the process as easy as possible. Each year HSH contracts with meat processors to agree on fees and procedures.
HSH is a 501c3 non-profit charity. Funding and support comes from a mix of public and private sources. A donation of $25 means 100 meals can be served to the hungry.
Meat processors interested in participating in this excellent program, or a person who is willing to be a county coordinator should contact Hunters Sharing the Harvest, 6780 Hickory Lane, Harrisburg, PA 17112, phone 717-545-1188, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The web site is www.sharedeer.org. For general information about Hunters Sharing the Harvest phone (866) 474-2141.