Approximately 3,000 pounds of venison has been delivered to five Cambria County food pantries this year thanks to efforts made by Center for Population Health Local Food Systems Coordinator Nan McNinney and her partnership with Hunters Sharing the Harvest.
“So many people are grateful to have this extra source of protein on their table, “said McNinney. “Cambria County has a rich history of deer hunting and, while a few don’t hunt anymore or, perhaps, they are widowed, and their husband used to hunt, they miss having this as a meal. It brought back great memories. For some, they were excited to try it for the first time. The generosity of local hunters is truly appreciated.”
During the height of the hunting season, butchers like Fenton Meats in Indiana County and Weimer Meats in Westmoreland County take the time to process the donations and make them available to many families in need. The ground venison is frozen and packed into 1.5-to-2-pound tubes.
“The Women’s Help Center stays connected to individuals who have left the shelter and continues to provide support, including food, to those in need,” said Roxann Tyger, Women’s Help Center executive director. “This donation was a wonderful way to help us feed people in need. We have been able to distribute it to some families who have been struggling as well as make the meat available to those in the shelter.”
Cresson Food Pantry, Franklin Street Food Pantry, Interfaith Community Food Pantry and Walnut Grove Food Pantry all received venison donations.
“Walnut Grove Food Pantry was very blessed to receive approximately 200 pounds of ground venison,” said Sandi Wallce, Walnut Grove Food Pantry manager. “Our pantry clients were thrilled to receive this special addition to their pantry box.”
Cheryl Bedick Keafer, executive director Bridges Cooperative Ministry stated that she was excited to be able to offer “this unique option during the holiday season.”
Dave Rager, Interfaith Community Food Pantry manager, added that the venison was a “big hit.”
Hunters Sharing the Harvest (HSH) has coordinated venison donation and processing since 1991. According to HSH’s website, “an average-sized deer will provide enough high protein, low fat meat for 200 meals.”
As rifle season enters, McNinney hopes that more hunters will share their deer.
For more information on HSH and to learn how to get involved, visit HSH (sharedeer.org).