Missouri Hunters Expected to Harvest Record Amounts of Venison for Hunger Programs

Hunters in Missouri are on pace to donate a record amount of venison to hunger programs.

From this story in the Columbia Missourian:
Missouri set to process a record amount of donated deer this hunting season Larry Freeman heard from enough customers to think about making his butcher shop part of a long-running program that encourages hunters to donate deer for the needy. An increase this year in the amount he receives for each deer made it easier for Freeman, who operates KP Processing near Harrisburg, to become one of about 120 meat processors in the state providing venison to food banks under the Share the Harvest program. "It's a good deal all around," Freeman said. "And the money doesn't hurt either. It's a big deal -- hunters pay a lot of money on just the equipment to go hunting." Share the Harvest helps cover the processing costs of donating venison. A total of 2.1 million pounds of venison have been donated since the program began in 1992, said Joe Jerek, spokesman for the Missouri Department of Conservation.
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_This year, the Conservation Federation of Missouri will reimburse certified local meat processors $60 per donated deer -- a $15 increase from 2009. At KP Processing, Freeman charges $65 to process a deer. After receiving $60 from the Conservation Federation, $5 is left for the hunter to pay. Freeman has processed seven deer donated this year by archery hunters. Last year, about 250,000 pounds of venison donated through the program provided a healthy source of protein to families that otherwise lack the resources to buy such foods, said Matt Gaunt, director of development for the Conservation Federation of Missouri. Dave Murphy, executive director of the Conservation Federation, said Share the Harvest has the capacity to reimburse deer processors a record 10,000 donated deer this season.