SPRINGFIELD, Mo — As hunters head out to their blinds this weekend, local food banks are hoping that some choose to give back through ‘Share the Harvest’.
“It just goes for such a good cause. We feel that it’s very much worth our time to do,” said John Rohlman with J&L Custom Processing in Walnut Grove. He’s been participating in the program since the Missouri Department of Conservation began Share the Harvest in 1992.
“There’s a lot of people that get what they need for their family, and then try to go get 1 or 2 deer to help out needy people,” said Rohlman.
He processes around 30-40 deer each season for Share the Harvest. Completely free of charge to the hunter. The Conservation Department reimburses processors that participate in the program.
“They bring the deer. We fill out some paper work and they are free to go,” said Rohlman.
“Maybe you’re a bow hunter, and you’ve been successful in the bow season. Maybe you want to gun hunt as well. That allows you to hunt, and it gives you a place to take the venison,” said Francis Skalicky with the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Once processed, all of the venison in Greene County goes to Crosslines. Last year, the food bank distributed nearly 3,000lbs of deer meat.
“That’s a huge number for us to be able to provide that to families,” said Tom Faulkner, Director for Crosslines.
“Children, and families all together, need protein. It’s always a struggle for families to get that through a food pantry because we are always looking for meats. For hunters to go out and give to our community in that way is amazing for us.”
For hunters that get a deer in an area with Chronic Wasting Disease, the Missouri Department of Conservation will take the deer to a processor once cleared and determined safe.