The demand for venison from food banks has increased dramatically since the COVID-19 virus arrived in March. John Plowman, executive director of Hunters Sharing the Harvest in Pennsylvania, believes …
The demand for venison from food banks has increased dramatically since the COVID-19 virus arrived in March. John Plowman, executive director of Hunters Sharing the Harvest in Pennsylvania, believes hunters can fulfill the need. He said the requests from food banks for venison has increased by 50 percent. He anticipates the demand will continue to increase through the fall, and hunters have already started donating deer during the early weeks of the archery season.
Plowman said he is counting on archery hunters to account for a greater percentage of the venison that reaches food banks. During the 2019-20 hunting season organization's donated 160,445 pounds of venison. He said they usually get a total of 5,000 deer into the food bank system and archery season comprises 1,000 to 1,500 deer donations, and he thinks it's going to eventually cover half of all the deer donated because so many people are bowhunting.
Information and education supervisor with the PA Game Commission's Northeast Region said the agency is going to promote Hunters Sharing the Harvest even more this year due to the rising need from food banks. He said the Game Commission donates $55,000 to Hunters Sharing the Harvest, and it makes sense to get the word out on the importance of donating deer. People are having a harder time this year, and putting meat into the hands of those who need it is a noble cause.
John Plowman stated, “Hunters Sharing the Harvest fills a void witnessed at many food banks. Venison is high in protein and all of the deer donated to the program are processed into ground meat, which makes it versatile for food banks to utilize. The ground meat from one deer can provide 200 meals. You can do a lot with ground venison. Our deer meat is all derived during a three-month period, and the food banks know the time to get it is as the hunting season is progressing.”
While deer donations remain strong every year, Hunters Sharing the Harvest is facing a challenge in some counties when it comes to finding butchers to participate in the program. The goal of the program includes having enough processors so hunters don't have to drive more than 50 miles to donate a deer, but there are several counties without participating butchers.
Since the processing costs for a donated deer is covered, it makes it easy for hunters to participate. Another option for hunters is they can donate a portion of their deer and keep the rest. Hunters Sharing the Harvest will cover the processing costs for the donated portion of the deer.
Make sure you either vote early or get out and vote on November 3!
Jack Danchak is the President of the Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs of Sullivan County.
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