Hunters Sharing the Harvest is Pennsylvania’s charitable venison donation program for hunters who share their extra venison via a statewide network of participating butchers to Food Banks across Pennsylvania.
Although the Pennsylvania deer hunting season is still several months away, that trophy buck is surely on the minds of hunters across the state. However, the main idea on the mind of Hunters Sharing the Harvest (HSH) Executive Director John Plowman is the prospect of once again using the deer hunting season to feed thousands of hungry Pennsylvanians.
“Since 1991 the Hunters Sharing the Harvest venison donation program, (HSH) has coordinated the processing and distribution of donated wild game from hunters and municipal herd reduction sources to hungry people throughout Pennsylvania,” the program’s website states. “More than 1.8 million Pennsylvanians are classified as food insecure, with the recent economy downturn only escalating the need and requests for food assistance.”
During a Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce networking event on May 20, Plowman shared the donation totals of last year’s Hunters Sharing the Harvest program as well as officially announced the kickoff of 2015’s fundraising.
“Last year we had 97,000 pounds of venison donated by our hunters, which is enough for 450,000 meals,” he said. “It was our second-best year ever, but there are still over a million people that need assistance, and we still need help to make this year even better.”
As a non-profit charity program, HSH relies on local people and businesses to help cover the costs associated with processing the venison. Last year, the support was so effective that HSH was able drop the $15 deposit required by hunters donating their deer.
“We cannot offer enough thanks to our industry partners like Chief, Cabot, Southwestern, Williams and the Marcellus Shale Coalition for their support,” Plowman said. “Without their help, we would not able to pay the butchers to process the meat.” The program also receives support from those outside the industry as well.
Celebrating its 23rd year, HSH was actually surprised by its strong results following last year’s hunting season, according to a press release handed out at the event, considering the Pennsylvania Game Commission estimated that the deer harvest was down by 15 percent.
“HSH credits the continuing loyalty and support of hunters for their own donation program in sharing those deer,” the release said.
HSH distributes venison to over 4,000 Pennsylvania soup kitchens, pantries, food banks, missions and other organizations, but is still looking to break into other areas across the state.
“Currently, HSH has no meaningful or effective outreach infrastructure in Warren, McKean, Potter, Forest, Venango, Elk, Clarion, Cameron, Jefferson, Clinton, Mifflin, Juniata, Snyder and Northumberland/Montour Counties,” the release states. “We’d like to feed the hungry families in those areas, too.”
“Venison is a nutritious, high-protein meat that, for some families, is the only red meat that they can access,” Plowman said. “We are extremely grateful for the support we have had but we are going to keep trying to grow, because people are counting us.”
To help Hunters Sharing the Harvest meet their goals or to reach the program for more information, those interested are encouraged to call 717-545-1188 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.