After last year's deer season, Missouri deer hunters donated 289,292 pounds of venison to the state's Share the Harvest program to help feed the hungry.
"Hunters started Share the Harvest because they saw a need in their communities," Missouri Department of Conservation Director Sara Parker Pauley said in a news release from the department. "We sincerely thank the thousands of deer hunters who support Share the Harvest, along with many participating meat processors and sponsors."
The Department of Conservation and Columbia Farmers Market coordinate with deer hunters who are donating extra venison to more than 100 participating meat processors throughout the state. The processors grind the meat into ready-to-use packages that are given to local food banks and pantries to be distributed to Missourians in need of food assistance.
Processing fees are covered entirely or in part by numerous local supporting organizations and statewide sponsors, including Shelter Insurance, Bass Pro Shops and United Bowhunters of Missouri.
CFM Executive Director Brandon Butler believes that "hunters across Missouri should be proud of this outstanding program."
This year's donation is equivalent to around 5,600 whole deer and is nearly 100,000 more pounds of venison than last year's donation.
4 million pounds of lean, healthy venison has been donated since the program began in 1992.