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Missouri expands meat donation program

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri’s Share the Harvest program, which provides deer meat to those in need, will expand to include shelf-stable venison after Gov. Mike Parson signed a House bill into law earlier this week. 

The state has regulated deer meat distributed by charitable organizations to be frozen and packaged. But HB 1711, from Republican state Rep. Tim Remole, allowed the meat to be packaged in a shelf-stable way, including as snack sticks. 

Only deer meat is allowed to be distributed to the Share the Harvest program, which operates under the Missouri Conservation Department’s (MDC) umbrella in conjunction with the Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM). Along with other partners, the federation reimburses processors who process deer donated by hunters. Hunters’ bills are reduced by a set amount, and processors send vouchers to CFM for reimbursement. 

“CFM has successfully run the program for almost 30 years, but not without the help of so many partners, including the Missouri Department of Conservation, Feeding Missouri and their food banks, and other private business donors,” CFM Executive Director Tyler Schwartze said. “We are looking forward to working with these partners to expand the program to include shelf-stable deer meat.” 

HB 1711, from Republican state Rep. Tim Remole, allows the donated deer meat to be packaged in a shelf-stable way, including as snack sticks.

“We are excited to see the program expand to include shelf-stable venison to help feed people across Missouri,” Scott Baker, the executive director of Feeding Missouri, said. “Being able to include protein-rich meat to the backpacks of school children in need is just another way Missouri hunters can support their neighbors.” 

The Share the Harvest program began in 1992 and has provided more than 4.3 million pounds of venison — including nearly 7,000 pounds of whole deer donated by hunters last season — to Missourians in need. According to CFM, the program has donated more than 17 million meals. 

The program is also local; the meat stays in the community where it’s donated, CFM said. 

HB 1711 goes into effect Aug. 28, but the program’s expansion will be delayed until deer season begins a bit later in the year.