Pennsylvania deer hunters share a feast through statewide nonprofit
With rifle deer hunting season now underway in Pennsylvania, a statewide nonprofit is sharing the bounty with those in need.
Hunters Sharing the Harvest (HSH) donates venison across the Commonwealth, to food pantries and individual families. Since 1991, HSH has donated nearly two million pounds of venison. Board of Directors Chairman Bill Sordoni said their contributions grow each season.
“Last year, we donated…235,000 pounds of venison. Which my math is that about a quarter of a pound of venison is a meal, so we’re pushing 900,000 meals of what I like to say is organic, free-range, some of the healthiest protein you can find,” said Sordoni. “If you talk to the food banks, they very rarely get protein.”
According to HSH, one deer provides 200 venison meals. For every 25 dollars donated to HSH, they promise to provide 100 meals to families and food banks.
All board members, coordinators, and food processors are volunteers, said Eastern Statewide Coordinator Dawn Sneal.
“Everything we do, we do because we want to be part of [the program]. And doing something good for the community,” said Sneal.
The low overhead keeps costs down for hunters, according to Sneal.
“The organization does everything they can to offset the cost for the hunter. The donations and fundraising we do – we pay the butchers’ fees. So, it’s a hundred percent free. All the hunter has to do is show up at one of our participating butchers. And then we take care of the rest, right down to getting it delivered,” said Sneal.
HSH’s coordinators do a little bit of everything in delivering meals across the state.
“I’ve had direct donations where someone has sent a family to reach out to me. That’s been a need to where I’ve been able to take food directly to a family in need. Which I think is the most rewarding [part of the program,]” said Sneal.
Chairman Bill Sordoni said the program empowers hunters to use their hobby for the good of the community.
“Without deer hunters in Pennsylvania, we don’t have a program,” said Sordoni. “And again, to be able to put nearly a million healthy meals into the food bank system. I mean, at the end of the day, we really are a social service organization providing protein to fill the [state’s] hunger needs. But it’s also a great crossover to the sporting community, which is very near and dear to my heart, to all of us [at HSH].”
HSH’s funding comes from community donations and backing by the PA Game Commission and the PA Department of Agriculture. They are always looking for volunteer coordinators and food processors. For information on where to find the nearest coordinator, processor, or participating food bank, go to HSH’s website. Their website also details how to best bring deer to one of their locations and safety tips.
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