BY KEVIN WOODRUFF
Hunters Sharing the Harvest executive director John Plowman was looking for ways to increase awareness of the non-profit food sharing program this year when he got the idea to approach Chesapeake Energy.
Plowman said sinceChesapeakeoperates in areas where hunting is popular, he thought it would make a nice fit.
“They (Chesapeake) have become such a major presence in prime hunting areas in the state,” Plowman said. “And a lot of them are hunters themselves.”
Plowman said his initial idea was to ask them to help defray advertising costs in the Pennsylvania Game Commission Hunting Digest, but he ended up getting much more.
“They became a sponsor for the advertisement in the Hunting Digest,” Plowman said. “But then they took the ball and reached out to many publications across the state on their own. It was awfully nice of them.”
Plowman said that with the new advertising campaign, he hopes the public can be better informed about the non-profit program.
Hunters Sharing the Harvest is a charitable venison donation program for hunters who share their extra venison via a statewide network of participating butchers to food banks across the state.
Participating butchers, who are paid for their services through monetary donations, coordinate the meat deliveries and work with local food banks. The food banks redistribute the venison to more than 4,000 local food assistance provider organizations such as food pantries, missions, homeless shelters, Salvation Army facilities and churches, as well as needy families.
The HSH donation season starts in the fall with archery deer season, and goes through the holiday season into late muzzleloader and late archery season.
Plowman estimates that 75 percent of the venison donated each year comes from the traditional deer rifle season, which concluded last week.
With the partnership, Plowman said he has already seen an increase in the amount of venison donated, and more monetary donations.
He also noted that participating butchers have been asking for more order forms.
“The donations already seem to be up,” Plowman said. “There is no way of knowing exact figures until the end of the season. But there has been a good response so far.”
Plowman stressed that all of the deer meat is ground up into burger, as this is the best way to fully utilize all the deer meat.
“One deer can provide 200 meals,” Plowman said. “And each year, we have a goal of getting 100,000 pounds of meat out to food banks.”
However, Plowman said that the success of the program each year depends heavily on hunter success and people’s willingness to give.
Senior director of corporate development Brian Grove said that Chesapeake Energy is a proud sponsor of the program.
“Chesapeakeis a proud partner with Hunters Sharing the Harvest in their mission to help feed families in need throughoutPennsylvania,” Grove said. “One of the challenges that HSH identified when we began discussion was promoting awareness of HSH amongstPennsylvaniahunters and the public at large.”
Grove said that he hopesChesapeake’s efforts in the print ad campaign can help increase the program’s success.
“HSH has continued to grow and serve greater numbers each year,” Grove said. “They have a truly important mission in serving families in need, one that parallelsChesapeake’s mission of improving the quality of life in all of the communities where we operate.”
Locally, all of the meat donated through the Hunters Sharing the Harvest program goes to Wright’s Cut Up, a deer processing facility owned by Dale Wright, inMonroeTownship.
InSusquehannaCounty, meat is sent to The Boys Meat Plant in Montrose, along with Scavazzo’s Deer Processing in Montrose.
From there it is distributed to food banks throughout each county.
Plowman noted that HSH does not deliver deer to private individuals, but urges people in need to contact their local food bank.
He also said that HSH is always looking for additional deer processors and donors to help with the program.
For more information call 1-866-474-2141, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.sharedeer.org.