During visit to Columbia food bank, Gov. Nixon and First Lady help unload venison contributed by Missouri hunters

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COLUMBIA, Mo. - Gov. Jay Nixon and First Lady Georganne Nixon were in Columbia on Friday at the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri to help unload 800 pounds of venison donated by Missouri hunters through the Share the Harvest program.

Share the Harvest is a public-private partnership that for more than 20 years has provided venison to families in need through food banks and food pantries across Missouri. The 2012 Missouri archery season for deer runs through Jan. 15.

"For many Missouri families, hunting is a time honored tradition, as is helping those in need," said Gov. Nixon, who harvested a deer in Pulaski County last month and, for the fourth year in a row, contributed venison to Share the Harvest.

"During this holiday season, Share the Harvest is a great way to help feed Missouri families," the Governor said. "I want to thank all the hunters across Missouri who made a real difference for the people of the Show-Me State by donating venison through Share the Harvest."

Administered by the Conservation Federation of Missouri in partnership with the Missouri Department of Conservation, Share the Harvest encourages hunters to donate their deer to needy Missourians.  Share the Harvest reimburses participating meat processors for a portion of the cost of butchering and packaging whole deer donated by Missouri hunters.

Now in its 21st season, the Share the Harvest program is able to process up to 10,000 deer this season and provide that venison to families in need. During the 2011 hunting season, nearly 6,200 whole deer were processed through Share the Harvest, resulting in more than 370,000 pounds of venison for families in need. That was an increase over the 5,390 whole deer donated in 2010, and the 4,200 whole deer donated in 2009.

During each of the past four hunting seasons, Gov. Nixon has donated a whole deer he successfully hunted to Share the Harvest. This past November, the Governor harvested an eight-point buck while deer hunting in Pulaski County and took the buck to Steve N Sons Custom Meat Processing in Newburg, where the venison was packaged for distribution through Share the Harvest.

In addition to the Conservation Federation of Missouri and the Department of Conservation, statewide sponsors of the cost-reduction program include Bass Pro Shops, Shelter Insurance, Missouri Chapter Whitetails Unlimited, Missouri Chapter Safari Club International, Missouri Chapter National Wild Turkey Federation, Drury Hotels, Enterprise Holdings Inc., Midway USA Inc., the Missouri Deer Hunters Association, Pyramid Home Health Services and Wells Fargo Bank.

To learn more about the Share the Harvest Program and to find a complete list of participating meat processors, please visit MO.gov.