by Anthony Hennen
Deer hunters in Pennsylvania have donated their harvest for three decades, providing millions of servings of food to Pennsylvania families in need.
Hunters Sharing the Harvest, created in 1991, is a venison donation program run by the Department of Agriculture and Pennsylvania Game Commission. In total, more than 2 million pounds of venison have been donated. One deer, HSH noted, provides about 200 servings of food.
The program remains strong, with 187,000 pounds of venison donated in the 2021-22 deer seasons.
Pennsylvania’s firearms deer season started on Saturday and runs through Dec. 10, with the exception of Sunday, Dec. 4. The Pennsylvania Game Commission estimates more than 600,000 hunters participate annually.
“These continued outstanding season donation numbers tell us that Pennsylvania hunters are becoming more aware of our mission and are taking advantage of the opportunity to donate deer in excess of what their families can consume,” said Randy Ferguson, executive director of Hunters Sharing the Harvest, in a press release.
Hunters donate the venison to deer processors, who then pass it along to food banks and food pantries. The Department of Agriculture noted that it provides at least $175,000 in funds for processors to accept the deer. HSH also relies on business donations to fund the program.
The donation program gives a boost to the commonwealth’s 5,000 food assistance centers; the Game Commission estimates that about 1.5 million Pennsylvanians are in need of food assistance.
HSH has a list of all processors where hunters can donate their deer across the commonwealth and is looking for meat processors to join the program due to high demand.
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Anthony Hennen is a reporter for The Center Square. Previously, he worked for Philadelphia Weekly and the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal. He is managing editor of Expatalachians, a journalism project focused on the Appalachian region.
Photo “Deer” by Anthony : ).