Every year, the Missouri Department of Conservation sponsors the Share the Harvest program, which encourages hunters to donate their venison for use by local food pantries, the department’s website states. The program spans throughout St. Louis and Jefferson counties, where hunters bring the meats to assigned butchers who grind the meat, which is then picked up by area food pantries.
“They (food pantry directors) tell us that providing protein-rich foods is their biggest challenge, and it is very hard for them to keep it in stock,” said Jim Low, spokesperson for the the department. “Lean meat like venison really is a treasure for them.”
But , which, , has been struggling to obtain foods high in protein, has not benefited from the program.
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“I don't have a butcher in my area that does that,” said Kathy Flanigan, director of the pantry. “I would jump on it if they offered it to me.”
According to the conservation department's list of butchers who participate in the Share the Harvest program, John's Butcher Shoppe, in Festus, is the closest one to Arnold.
Tom Kolisch, the owner of John’s Butcher Shoppe, said his store serves two food pantries, one in Hillsborough and one in the Ozarks. Kolisch said who they provide the deer for is determined by the conservation department.
Low said he did not know of about Arnold’s food pantry specifically, but if the pantry wanted to participate they would have to find a certified meat-processor to accept the venison from the hunters. Low also said most food pantries have a local sponsoring organization that helps pay for the cost of processing the venison and keeps it frozen.
Chris Boyd, Missouri Department of Conservation agent in Jefferson County, said any food pantry can apply to the Share the Harvest program, and the department would help them to get it set up.
“All the Share the Harvest venison donated in Jefferson County goes to nothing but Jefferson County residents,” Boyd said.
Boyd said the Arnold food pantry should give the department a call.
Flanigan said she will and hopes the department will help her participate in the program. Flanigan said the number of people her food pantry serves has been increasing throughout the years, and rations have already been lowered.
“The need has increased so much we just can’t give as much as we used to,” Flanigan said.