Area hunters donate venison to food pantry
120 pounds of meat given for Share the Harvest
The Missouri Conservation Department and an Exeter meat processor recently donated 123.5 pounds of venison to the Cassville Community Food Pantry at Cassville United Methodist Church.
"The good thing about the Share the Harvest program is it's deer that's harvested in the county, and we have a processor that processes the deer in Barry County, and then we have someone that distributes the deer meat to needy families in Cassville," said Daniel Shores, Barry County Conservation agent.
The Conservation Department contacted 4 A's Meat Processing, located at 1889 Farm Road 2155, about signing up for Share the Harvest before deer season started on Sept. 15, 2014.
"This is really the first time that we've ever received this, and I am just thrilled to get it started, and that they have found a processor that meets their criteria, so that we can go forward with this," said Janet Mills, director of the Community Food Pantry.
"I am elated that we have additional product, and hunters are willing to share in that way. It builds up an acknowledgment of a need, of sharing the wealth, of sharing the blessing of having the yield of their hunt."
About 120 families will receive the venison, Mills said. Protein is at a premium in any situation at a food pantry.
"Receiving that is the highest level of nutritional value of any product that we give away, so that merits high on the list of quality products," she said.
4 A's opened in June, and owner Rick Adams said his business took in nearly 200 deer over its first hunting season, which ended Jan. 15.
Many people got more deer than they could eat, so this meat went to help needy families who have no meat, Adams said.
"This deer is real good meat," he said.
The venison is natural and organic, said Daniel VanDerhoef, Barry County Conservation agent.
"Basically, you can use venison anyway that you use any other meat."
The 2014 deer hunting season yielded 212,343 pounds of donated venison from 3,916 Missouri deer hunters, and more than 100 participating meat processors prepared and grind the meat into one-pound bags, according to the Conservation Department. Share the Harvest, which started in 1992, has provided more than 3.3 million pounds of venison to help feed needy families in Missouri.
The Conservation Federation of Missouri and the Conservation Department administer the program.
For more information about Share the Harvest, people may visit mdc.mo.gov/hunting-trapping/deer/share-harvest.