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Merle Kropf, owner of M & M Butchering in Middletown, joined “Share the Harvest” to give area hunters a place to go to donate meat to families that would otherwise go without.
“It helps several places,” Kropf said. “Some people want to donate deer and just need a place to go.”
“Share the Harvest” is a joint operation by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and the Conservation Federation of Missouri. The program offers hunters that are willing to donate their deer an opportunity to drop off a whole deer for processing at a reduced price — or even free of charge. The processed meat is then distributed by local food banks to families, which get a secure source of protein.
“Venison provides a great source of lean protein. That’s a reoccurring theme we hear in all 32 counties of our service area,” Todd Pridemore, development supervisor at the Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri, said. “There could always be more protein.”
He said meat is sometimes too expensive for some and the families the food bank services really appreciate the extra help made by hunters and participating meat processors.
“We have been just working hard since late summer trying to get the word out about donating deer to the program,” Pridemore said. “We are so thankful to hunters that participate. It couldn’t happen without the meat processors.”
This hunting season is Kropf’s first in the program. M & M Butchering has been open for two years.
He said he tried to get in last year but a little mix up in the paper work held up the butcher from participating. He said he processed about three deer since the start of the season and there is no cost for donating a whole deer through the program at M & M Butchering.
“We have not had a lot yet,” Kropf said. “We don’t know what to expect (for hunting) from year to year.”
Cheri Bohr, part owner of Mexico Meat Market said she and husband, Greg Bohr, aren’t seeing too many deer either.
“The hide-man said numbers are down by about a third. It’s down some,” she said.
Greg Bohr said he has processed about 53 deer since the start of the season and he also processes whole deer at no charge through the program.
Local processors in Pike county are:
• Hilty’s Custom Butchering
• L and M Processing
• Wood’s Smoked Meats
Local processors in Ralls County are:
• Center Locker Service
• Four Quarter Processing
According to MDC, 6,191 hunters donated 317,882 pounds of venison during the 2011 hunting season. Since the program started in 20 years ago, the program has donated more than 2 million pounds of venison to people in need.