Harrisburg, PA – Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding joined Hunger-Free Pennsylvania and Hunters Sharing the Harvest today to encourage Pennsylvania’s more than 850,000 licensed hunters to consider donating a deer to Pennsylvanians in need of food this hunting season.
“In a year of challenges, Hunters Sharing the Harvest is a reliable tradition that offers us some bright light,” said Redding. “It’s a shining example of the good that can happen when public sector support and private sector generosity work together to solve a problem.
“A well-stocked freezer is not universal; more than 2 million Pennsylvanians are at risk for hunger and the simple act of sharing can help to fight that hunger,” added Redding. “If you’ve got more than one tag, consider using your love for the sport to feed others.”
A non-profit organization, Hunters Sharing the Harvest (HSH) coordinates the donation, processing, and distribution of venison to Pennsylvanians facing food insecurity. In 2019, HSH coordinated record donations for the program with more than 160,000 pounds of venison distributed to provide 822,000 meals to Pennsylvanians in need. On average, a single deer donated can provide up to 200 meals.
In 2019, the Department of Agriculture renewed a five-year contract with HSH to provide funding to defray costs of processing the donated venison. Under the contract, the department pays up to $145,000 annually in processor costs.
“Now more than ever, we need the support of Pennsylvanians as we work to feed the growing number of people facing food insecurity,” said Hunger-Free Pennsylvania Executive Director Sheila Christopher. “This partnership with Hunters Sharing the Harvest is critical to maintaining a steady supply of lean, high-protein product that is often difficult for our member food banks to source.”
In 2018, 1.4 million Pennsylvanians, nearly 10.9 percent of the population, didn’t always know where their next meal was coming from. In 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, that number increased by 41 percent to 2 million insecure Pennsylvanians. Even more startling, of the 2 million food insecure, 630,900 are children. That’s an increase of 57.6 percent since 2018.
“Our program is unique in maintaining its effectiveness and recognition of our Pennsylvania hunters’ compassion for others and since 1991,” said Hunters Sharing the Harvest Executive Director John Plowman. “With a 2019 record of more than 160,000 high-protein pounds distributed to statewide food banks, soup kitchens and families in need, we’re shooting for comparably good results for 2020.”
Hunters interested in participating can take their deer to one of the participating deer processors throughout the state and donate any amount of their venison to the program.
For more information on Hunters Sharing the Harvest, becoming a corporate sponsor, or donating through their Buck for the Pot initiative, visit sharedeer.org.
For more about the Wolf Administration’s efforts related to food insecurity in Pennsylvania throughout the pandemic, visit agriculture.pa.gov/foodsecurity.