Three deer processors in Washington County are among the approximately 100 statewide who are participating in Pennsylvania’s “Hunters Sharing the Harvest’’ program, which distributes venison to food banks, soup kitchens and pantries.
According to a list compiled by the state, the processors are Bobeck’s Deer Processing, 139 Craig Road, Monongahela; Lenik Deer Processing, 204 Railroad St., Finleyville; and Shuba’s Processing, 1116 Allison Hollow Road, Washington.
“I’ve done six so far this year, and we’re just coming into rifle season,” said Don Bobeck of Monongahela. “My goal this year is to get into the teens.
“The way it’s set up, most people through my shop here donate the complete deer. It’s real lean, 95 percent lean, which is better for you anyway.”
Greg Spencer of Shuba’s Processing estimated that the average deer carcass contains 50 to 60 pounds of venison.
“I know there’s a few thousand pounds of meat we’ve donated every year,” Spencer said.
Hunters can take their deer to meat processors throughout the state, donating any amount of their venison to the program, from several pounds to the entire animal. A hunter donating an entire deer is asked to make a minimum $15 tax-deductible contribution to help cover processing costs. The program covers all remaining fees.
The Department of Agriculture, through the federal Emergency Food Assistance Program, contributes $1.25 per pound of donated venison to reimburse processors. The deer meat is processed into ground venison before it is distributed.
Pennsylvanians can also donate money to the Buck for the Pot campaign, which supports Hunters Sharing the Harvest.
At Bobeck’s Deer Processing, monetary donations go to the Journey by Grace food pantry.
Antlered deer hunting season begins Monday.
A list of participating meat processors throughout the state is available at www.sharedeer.org, or by calling toll-free 866-474-2141.
Hunger affects more than 1.5 million Pennsylvanians, according to Agriculture Secretary George Greig.
The shared-deer effort, in its 21st year, has collected 1 million pounds of venison since its inception, said Samantha Elliott Krepps, spokewoman for the state Department of Agriculture. The yearly target is 100,000 pounds.