CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Deer hunting season began three weeks ago in Massachusetts and hunters have already donated more than 750 pounds of venison to the MassWildlife’s Hunters Share the Harvest Program.

That amount of venison is equivalent to more than 3,000 meals. The program has already doubled the amount of last year’s donations of 1,500 meals and there are still seven weeks of the deer hunting season left.

“The fact that we have already doubled the meals donated last year with two months of deer season remaining is incredible,” said Mark Tisa, MassWildlife Director. “Hunters and the wildlife conservation community are making a big impact addressing food insecurity in Massachusetts.”

Meat donated to the program is distributed to organizations across the state that help feed those in need, such as the Massachusetts Military Support Foundation’s Food4Vets.

“Fresh meat can be incredibly hard to source for our food pantry,” said Sarah Fecteau, Chief Financial Officer for the Massachusetts Military Support Foundation. “The donated venison was very popular with our patrons last year. It means so much to our veterans and active-duty military families who can come and get fresh and healthy meat.”

Hunters have the option to donate a portion of their harvest or an entire deer. There is no processing fee to donate and those that donate at least 15 pounds can receive a $50 discount on their processing fees.

“Hunters Share the Harvest is truly a win-win program”, said Martin Feehan, MassWildlife’s Deer Project Leader. “Not only does it provide meals to those in need, but it is also helping our forests by reducing the impacts of overabundant deer and fostering growth of young tree saplings. Hunters play this important role of both conserving our forests and providing food to our communities.”

The MassWildlife’s Hunters Share the Harvest Program also accepted monetary donations for those who would like to help. The money helps cover the cost of processing and packaging. You can donate on their website.

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