BOSTON (SHNS) – Acknowledging the elevated level of food insecurity across Massachusetts, the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife this fall has launched a program that allows hunters to donate wild game meat, specifically venison, to other Massachusetts residents in need.

Through the Hunters Share the Harvest program, MassWildlife said hunters can donate whole deer, which will be processed into ground venison with 10 percent pork fat added, packaged into two-pound portions with a MassWildlife label, and then distributed through the Massachusetts Military Support Foundation’s Food 4 Vets program.

“A recent study by The Greater Boston Food Bank shows that nearly one-third of adults in Massachusetts are facing food insecurity, a number that has grown during the pandemic. Free range, organic venison is a lean, healthy protein with a low carbon footprint that already feeds thousands of licensed hunters and their families across Massachusetts each year,” the agency said.

“Licensed hunters play an important role in wildlife management in Massachusetts, and now successful hunters can help combat hunger and food insecurity in their communities by donating venison.”

Hunters who want to donate a whole deer that was recovered, field dressed and cooled in a timely manner can bring it to Haskins Custom Butchering (308 Silver St. in Hanover). All deer donated must be legally reported and have a tag with a confirmation number, and will be inspected by a MassWildlife biologist for evidence of proper field dressing and to ensure there are no signs of disease. If a deer is rejected for donation, the hunter will have the option of taking it back. Processing and packaging costs will be covered through donations and MassWildlife said that a donation of $25 “will provide about 50 servings of meat for families in need.”

MassWildlife said it plans to expand the program’s donation and distribution locations in coming years.