Local food pantries recently received venison donations from the latest collection by Hunters Sharing The Harvest, a sportsmen-inspired community service program specializing in processing and distributing wild game.
“For me, it’s a big thank you for the hunters and the people who donated meat,” New Hope Ministries’ Executive Director Eric Saunders said. “People remember food pantries and the poor during holidays, but poverty and hunger are problems that affect the community year-round.”
Venison is a low-fat, high-protein meat that is “eagerly sought out by food distribution organizations given the low protein content of most distributed foods,” according to the program’s website,
For New Hope Ministries, which feeds more than 15,000 people per year throughout Cumberland County, any donation is much appreciated, especially when the donated meat weighs more than 1,000 pounds.
However, Saunders knows from experience that a half-ton of meat won’t last too long.
“It’ll probably mostly get used in our Mechanicsburg location,” he said. “We go through a lot of meat, and so a thousand pounds of meat is, maybe, I expect that thousand pounds to be gone within a month.”
New Hope Ministries has been receiving venison from the program for about seven years, and has received one or two deliveries each year since 2007.
“Sometimes people love it and sometimes they’re a little suspicious,” Saunders said.
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Project SHARE in Carlisle is another food distribution organization that donates food to more than 1,100 households every month, and looks forward to the venison deliveries from program.
“We get some every year, and we love getting the meat because meat is hard to come by,” Project SHARE Executive Director Elaine Livas said.
The next food distribution from Project SHARE is Jan. 13. That same day, volunteers and staff will have a cooking demonstration to show residents a variety of ways venison can be prepared.
“We always try to have a cooking demonstration if there is some type of food we are giving out that people might not be familiar with,” Livas said. “Taste it, and get an easy verbal recipe at home — we don’t want the food to be wasted.
“Venison has a little different smell, and people who aren’t familiar with it might think that it’s ground beef, but it might be going bad or something, so we want them to be familiar with what it is,” she added.
New Hope Ministries also offers in-house demonstrations and recipe advice to those using their services.
“Protein is something that we want to give out to people and people ask for,” Livas said. “Most everybody who’s familiar with venison asks for it, so we’re very grateful to people who get a deer that share it with us.”