COLUMBIA — Mid-Missouri charities received 23,650 pounds of venison through the 2008 Share the Harvest program. The program aims to provide an abundance of clean and wholesome food, said Dave Murphy, executive director of the Conservation Federation of Missouri.
“Each of those one-pounds (donated) is calculated to produce four meals. In other words, a quarter-pounder in each one,” Murphy said.
Participating central Missouri charities include:
Central Missouri Food Bank, Columbia
The Salvation Army, Columbia and Jefferson City
Samaritan Center, Jefferson City
First United Methodist Church Food Pantry, Jefferson City
Serve, Inc., Fulton
New Life Evangelistic Center, New Bloomfield, Columbia, Jefferson City
Oak Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, New Bloomfield
Helping Hands Outreach Center of Gasconade County, Owensville
Hermann Community Food Pantry, Hermann
The Help Center, Mexico
California United Methodist Church Food Pantry, California
Hope House, Eldon
Mike DeSantis, marketing coordinator at the Central Missouri Food Bank, said the food bank has distributed 10,381 pounds of ground deer since October. He said packages of ground meat are easier to store, ship, and distribute.
Earl Cannon, coordinator of Share the Harvest for the central Missouri chapter of Safari Club International, agreed ground meat is ideal because it is versatile for preparing meals.
But he said processing deer can be costly.
"The average out there is probably about $70," Cannon said. To encourage donations, the Conservation Federation of Missouri pays a flat $35 for each whole deer donated to the program. The Safari Club covers the remaining costs to process the meat into one-pound packages.
Murphy said the numbers aren’t final, but he expects the statewide total to reach 260,000 to 270,000 pounds, based on 5,000 to 6,000 donated deer.
The 23,650 pounds donated in the mid-Missouri six-county area was a decrease of 2,900 pounds from the 2007 season. Cannon attributed the decrease to fewer deer killed.
Along with organizing the area’s program, Cannon has helped distribute meat to people in mid-Missouri.
“It was a very rewarding experience," Cannon said. "The people were so appreciative to get the donation."
Even with the decline in mid-Missouri, Murphy said the project provides more than one million meals to Missourians in need.