Venison donations sought by Hunters Sharing the Harvest
When an annual effort steers desperately needed food from the forests of Pennsylvania to the empty plates of the state’s needy, thanks go to an army of chefs working in the benevolent kitchen that is Hunters Sharing the Harvest.
With a soon-to-be butchered whitetail as a backdrop, and the Enola-based Diller’s Custom Deer Processing business as his stage, John Plowman ticked of a long list of supporters that help make Pennsylvania’s Hunters Sharing the Harvest (HSTH) a national leader in feeding the hungry with venison supplied by deer hunters.
“There are many states offering similar programs but none does it on the level that we do here in Pennsylvania,” Plowman said at a Tuesday news conference kicking off the annual food donation and distribution effort. “The agencies and departments represented here today helped achieve that success, but Hunters Sharing the Harvest really couldn’t exist without the hunters’ participation.”
Hunters Sharing the Harvest Executive Director John Plowman (second from right) congratulates some of the key players in the Hunters Sharing the Harvest (HSH) success story. They are (from left) Rick Fetrow, HSH Board of Directors chair; Lorri Diller, co-owner of Diller’s Custom Deer Processing, Enola; and Casey Wissler, Diller’s office assistant.
The program’s executive director then turned his audience’s attention to a magnificent 8-point buck brought to Diller’s for processing. Donated venison, in the form of ground meat, supplies the needed red meat in countless food-bank efforts, Plowman said.
“Those folks feeding the hungry get the canned goods and the dry foodstuffs, but they get very little donated beef, veal or pork,” Plowman said. “Because of successful hunters, venison from deer like that gets into the system. They are a vital cog in a bountiful wheel that has been rolling smoothly for over 20 years.”
And, successful hunters received some coaxing from Diller’s co-owner Lorri Diller. She is among more than 100 participating HSH meat processors, all now recognized and approved by the state Department of Agriculture.
“I would encourage all hunters, if they are fortunate to harvest a deer this year—or perhaps more than one deer—please consider donating it to Hunters Sharing the Harvest,” Diller said. “Even the donation of a portion of his or her deer helps fight hunger.”
Diller was joined in her appeal Tuesday by Agriculture Secretary George Greig, who stressed hunter venison donations go a long way to stocking the pantries of food banks, soup kitchens and pantries across Pennsylvania.
“Hunger affects more than 1.5 million Pennsylvanians in all corners of our state,”Greig said. “By donating venison, hunters can help keep food on their neighbor’s tables this winter.”
Hunters can take their deer to participating meat processors throughout the state. They can donate any amount of their venison to the program, from several pounds to the entire animal, which is then processed into ground venison before it is distributed.
Any hunter donating an entire deer is asked to make a minimum $15 tax-deductible contribution to help cover processing costs. The program covers all remaining fees. The Department of Agriculture, through the federal Emergency Food Assistance Program, contributes $1.25 per pound of donated venison to reimburse processors. “Through ‘Hunters Sharing the Harvest,’ the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank is able to offer a high quality meat product that is highly desired by the families we serve,” Joe Arthur, executive director of the regional food bank said. “The donated venison is a great source of a low-fat, high protein meat product that is beneficial for a balanced diet.”
Established in 1991, Hunters Sharing the Harvest provides more than 200,000 meals annually to food banks, churches and social services feeding programs. Hunters regularly donate more than 100,000 pounds of venison each year.
Pennsylvanians can also donate money to the Buck for the Pot campaign, which supports “Hunters Sharing the Harvest.”
To learn more about the program and obtain a list of participating meat processors and county coordinators, visit the Game Commission’s Web site here. Information may also be found at www.sharedeer.org or by calling, toll-free, 1-866-474-2141.
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