Central Missouri deer hunters donated almost 14 tons of venison to area charities during the recent 2010-11 deer season, including more than a ton to the SERVE, Inc. food bank in Fulton.
The donation program was made possible by the Share the Harvest Program sponsored by the Central Missouri Chapter of Safari Club International, which is based in Fulton.
Lisa Brown, executive director of SERVE, said Callaway County residents "are extremely appreciative of the donation of venison. Meat is always something that is in high demand, especially venison, which is high protein, lean and healthful."
"Deer meat is extremely versatile. People in Callaway County know what to do with it. They have plenty of recipes for venison," Brown said.
"Meat is something that is difficult for us to acquire. When we are low on food," Brown said, "meat is not something that we will purchase. Any donations of meat are very much appreciated."
Brown said SERVE has been providing food to an average of 2,300 to 2,600 Callaway County residents every month. To be eligible for the free food, recipients must have an income of no more than 125 percent of the federally designated poverty level, which is based on family size. She said a family of four would qualify for the free food with an income of $2,204 a month, or $26,448 a year, which is 125 percent of the poverty level.
"Some of the people we serve are not receiving any government assistance and many of them have at least one member of the household who is employed," Brown said.
Most of the donated venison is ground, wrapped in one-pound packages, and frozen by processing plants in Central Missouri.
Earl Cannon, coordinator of the Sportsmen Against Hunger/Share the Harvest Program, said deer hunters donated 27,633 pounds of venison to Central Missouri charities.
Cannon said 469 whole deer and numerous partial deer were donated by area hunters.
"This is the second largest amount of venison donated in the 11 years the chapter has been a local sponsor of the program and represents a 14 percent increase over the previous year," Cannon said.
"We are so thankful for the venison donations by deer hunters in the area. It comes at a time when there is a great need for food by charities in Central Missouri," said Jim Lightsey, president of the Central Missouri chapter.
The Conservation Federation of Missouri and the Central Missouri Chapter of SCI paid the processing cost for whole deer donations. "Our chapter really appreciates the efforts by the deer hunters, meat processors, charities, Missouri Department of Conservation, Conservation Federation of Missouri, Safari Club International Foundation, Missouri Food Bank Association, Department of Economic Development and others who helped make the program so successful," Lightsey said.
Donations by participating processing plants were:
Hartman's Custom Meat Processing of New Bloomfield, 3,245 pounds; R&R Processing of Auxvasse, 4,080 pounds; Crane's Meat Processing of Ashland, 5,520 pounds; Russellville Locker of Russellville, 5,270 pounds; Clennin's Meats of California, 1,680 pounds (the plant was destroyed by fire early in the season); Swiss Meat & Sausage Co. of Hermann, 2,440 pounds; Mexico Meat & Produce of Mexico, 5,400 pounds.
The distribution of venison to Central Missouri charities included:
SERVE, Inc. of Fulton, 2,938 pounds; New Life Evangelistic Center of New Bloomfield, 480 pounds; Oak Chapel Missionary Baptist Church of Guthrie, 960 pounds; First Baptist Church Food Pantry of Guthrie, 1,080 pounds; First United Methodist Church Food Pantry of Jefferson City, 270 pounds; California United Methodist Church Food Pantry, California, 1,920 pounds; Samaritan Center of Jefferson City, 1,680 pounds; Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri of Columbia, 5,520 pounds; Salvation Army of Jefferson City, 3,000 pounds; The Help Center of Mexico, 5,400 pounds; Helping Hands Outreach Center of Gasconade County, Owensville and Hermann Community Food Pantry of Hermann, 2,440 pounds; Hope House of Lake Ozark, 1,200 pounds; and Eldon Ministerial Alliance Food Pantry, 360 pounds.