Deer program helps feed the hungry

KAREN VIBERT-KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette Lane Gibson, of Gibson’s Custom Butchering, near Hughesville, fills bags with ground venison for the Hunters Sharing the Harvest program. The program allows hunters to donate their deer to feed the needy.

Not all of the deer harvested from the woods and fields of the state will end up as meals on the tables of hunters.

Many of the deer will once again be donated to hungry families and individuals through the Hunter’s Sharing the Harvest venison donation program.

Last year, more than 130,000 pounds of processed venison were donated to the program, according to Executive Director John Plowman.

That once again exceeds the program’s goal of 100,000 pounds.

“I never dreamed we would have achieved anything close to that when we first started it,” Plowman said. “We love the program.”

Since 1991, Sharing the Harvest has coordinated the processing and distribution of wild game to hungry people throughout the state.

The processed venison is channeled through the state’s 21 food banks and redistributed to more than 5,000 charities, including food pantries,

Gibson’s Custom Butchering, 6191 Beaver Lake Road, Hughesville, is among the local businesses participating in the program.

Lane Gibson said the shop normally receives anywhere from 15 to 20 donated deer that become food for the needy.

“About seven deer have been donated so far this year,” he said.

Plowman noted that the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, which serves Lycoming County, participates in the program.

He said deer harvested by archery hunters has added to the program’s growing numbers.

Officials noted that many wildlife management units in the state offer multiple deer tags, longer seasons and special hunting opportunities that result in extra deer being donated by sportsmen and sportswomen.

More than 1.8 million of the state’s residents are classified as food insecure.

The program is a registered 501c3 nonprofit.