During the weekend, Sportsmen Against Hunger began to distribute donated venison to food charities in Callaway County and throughout Central Missouri.
The distribution occurs each year just after the firearms deer season in Missouri.
Earl Cannon of Jefferson City, coordinator of the Sportsmen Against Hunger Committee of the Central Missouri chapter of Safari Club International, praised Callaway County and Central Missouri deer hunters for donating venison to help feed needy people through the Share the Harvest program.
Cannon said the venison is eagerly awaited by food charities in Central Missouri. He said with the economic downturn there is a growing demand for the venison, which is lean and nutritious. "Our most recent data shows that 14 percent - or one in seven - of the people living in Central Missouri reside in households below the poverty level," Cannon said.
Joel LeMaster of Fulton, a member of Safari Club International, delivered more than 3,000 pounds of venison to SERVE Inc. of Fulton.
On Friday LeMaster and Cannon delivered 1,265 pounds of venison to the Oak Chapel Missionary Baptist Church Food Pantry near Guthrie, the New Life Evangelistic Center Food Pantry at New Bloomfield and the California United Methodist Church Food Pantry in California.
Some of the venison on Friday was processed at R&R Processing of Auxvasse by Randy Breneman, owner, and two employees, Lucas Breneman and Melissa Staples.
The venison donated to the California charity will help provide nutrition to needy people in Moniteau County. For the past few years, the California charity had been receiving its venison through Share the Harvest from Clennin's Meats of California, which was destroyed by fire recently.
Cannon said deer hunters may donate from one pound to a whole deer through the Share the Harvest program. Cannon said $60 of the processing costs are paid by the Conservation Federation of Missouri and the Central Missouri Chapter of Safari Club International pays the balance of the cost for hunters donating whole deer.
During this year's Missouri deer seasons, 4,243 hunters donated more than 213,000 pounds of venison to the statewide Share the Harvest program. As of last Feburary, more than 2 million pounds of venison has been donated by Missouri hunters since the program started.
Processing plants in Mid-Missouri participating in this year's Share the Harvest program sponsored by the Central Missouri Chapter of SCI include R & R Processing, Auxvasse; Mexico Meat and Produce, Mexico; Russellville Locker, Russellville; Hartman's Custom Meat Processing, New Bloomfield; Crane's Meat Processing, Auxvasse; and Swiss Meat & Sausage Co, Hermann.
Jim Lightsey, president of the Central Missouri Chapter of Safari Club International, said Mid-Missouri hunters last year donated 24,000 pounds of venison through his chapter's program. "We appreciate very much the support from hunters for our program," Lightsey said.
Callaway County charities accepting donated venison include SERVE, Inc., 4901 County Road 304, Fulton, 573-642-6388; Oak Chapel Baptist Church, at Guthrie near New Bloomfield, 573-449-8288; First Baptist Church, 2213 State Road Y, New Bloomfield, 573-491-3201; and the New Life Evangelistic Center, 9823 State Road AE, New Bloomfield, 573-896-8701.
Jefferson City charities accepting donated venison are The Salvation Army, 927 Jefferson St., 573-635-1975; Samaritan Center, 1310 E. McCarty St., 573-634-7776; and the First United Methodist Church, 201 Monroe St., 573-635-6886.
Other Central Missouri charities receiving donated venison are: California United Methodist Church, 201 South Oak St., California, 573-796-2792; The Help Center, 716 E. Breckenridge, Mexico, 573-581-3238; Hope House, 40 Lakeland Road, Lake Ozark, 314-280-6024; The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri, 2000 Pennsylvania Drive, Columbia, 573-474-1020; The Salvation Army, 1108 W. Ash, Columbia, 573-442-3229; Helping Hands Outreach Center of Gasconade County, 201 E. Peters, Owensville, Mo., 573-437-8880; and Hermann Community Food Pantry, 808 Washington St., Hermann, 573-486-2651.