Story Courtesy of Mona Shand-Missouri News Service

Deer hunters look forward to this time of year, and so do Missouri food pantries, thanks to a collaborative effort which is helping feed the state’s needy.

According to Larry Yamnitz, Protection Division Chief at the Missouri Department of Conservation, “Share the Harvest” is a simple concept: Hunters take their deer to an approved processor and let them know how much venison they wish to donate, and the processors take care of all the rest, packaging the meat and getting it to local charitable organizations for distribution.

“Hunters are always traditionally good sportsmen, sportswomen, and this is just another way to show their benevolent side and how they care about the resource and people,” Yamnitz said.

Last year, more than 6000 hunters donated 318,000 pounds of venison through Share the Harvest. A list of participating processors is available on the Department of Conservation’s website,

The program is a joint effort between the Department of Conservation and the Missouri Conservation Federation, and, Yamnitz said, thanks to donations, the processing often is free or at a greatly-reduced cost for hunters. He said the donated venison fills an important dietary hole for many of the state’s hungry.

“It provides an opportunity for more protein to go into the food pantries that usually don’t get a lot of protein,” he said. “They get a lot of carbohydrates, things like that, and this is just another opportunity to provide protein.”

Only venison from white-tailed deer legally taken in Missouri is accepted for the program.

More information is at