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Going Public: SEMO Food Bank's Participation with 'Share The Harvest' and Holiday Mobile Food Programs

Share-the-Harvest logo with Southeast Missouri Food Bank
Southeast Missouri Food Bank
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https://bit.ly/3hVCEx1

Each year, 'Share the Harvest' is administered by the Conservation Federation of Missouri and the Missouri Department of Conservation, and processing costs of the donated meat is covered by the program.

Once a deer has been donated and processed, the meat is distributed to one of the Southeast Missouri Food Bank's partner agencies to be shared with families and individuals in need.

Throughout the Holiday Season, multiple food distribution sites in the 16-county area will also be available to help those in need.

On Wed. Nov. 16th, KRCU Public Radio spoke with Heather Collier—Southeast Missouri Food Bank's Donor Relations and Communications Manager—about the organization's role in the 'Share the Harvest' program, and various holiday mobile food program distributions.

Here was our conversation.

John Moore:

I'm John Moore with KRCU Public Radio. This is ‘Going Public’, and we are speaking with Heather Collier, who is with the Southeast Missouri Food Bank. We're here to talk about one particular program that only comes around once a year: it is ‘Share the Harvest’. Welcome to our program.

Heather Collier:

Hi. How are you?

JM:

I'm good. So, you do a lot of different programs throughout the year, and you you provide food for many food [distribution centers]. I think if someone saw a list of just how many different food [distribution centers] that you provide for, they would probably be pretty surprised. Tell me, what [is this] program, if you haven’t heard of it before?

HC:

‘Share the Harvest’ is a program that has been going on for many, many years with the Missouri Department of Conservation, and the Conservation Federation of Missouri. And it allows hunters to donate harvested deer, venison, to local food banks or food pantries. So, we are the Southeast Missouri Food Bank. We work with 140 agencies throughout 16 counties. A lot of those are local food pantries in the communities. A hunter, if [they are] in Wayne County, for example, harvest a deer and [they don’t] have room in the freezer for all of [their] venison, [they] can take it to an approved processor. There's one in Piedmont in Wayne County--Piedmont processing, and [they] can say [they] want to donate so many pounds of that meat to a local food pantry. And so that food pantry would then be able to distribute the meat. Anything that [was brought to that] business and processed under share the harvest, there's no cost to the hunter. The program covers the cost of processing--just a really great way for hunters in Missouri to give back to families who don't have the resources to, you know, have fresh meat and fresh protein all the time.

JM:

I'm sure anybody who's gone to the supermarket lately can attest to this, but [protein] has gotten pretty expensive [lately]. So this kind of is a way that you can help fill in the gap, isn't it?

HC:

Definitely. Protein is one of the most requested items that the food bank gets from the people we serve. Protein is an important part of your diet. We know that it's just like you said, it's gotten more expensive at the grocery store. Things have gotten more expensive for the food bank when we're purchasing food. And so having a program like ‘Share the Harvest’ that allows families who don't have the resources to you know, buy protein all the time, it gives them that venison. I mean--my family, I have a lot of deer hunters in my family. I grew up eating venison and deer meat, and I love it. It's a treat for these families. And it's also making sure that food is not being wasted. You know, some hunters don't really want a freezer full of venison, and so it ensures that families who need it, can get it.

John Moore:

You know, they might be able to keep it at a meat locker, but it's kind of expensive to. It could get expensive if you harvested several deer. I'm not sure if this is a record of any kind--but somewhere around over 93,000 deer were harvested just this past weekend. It's just opening weekend, so clearly there's a lot of protein that can be shared across this region.

HC:

I was just going to say, and the ‘Share the Harvest’ program makes it so easy to do, because I mentioned Piedmont processing in Piedmont. But there are many processors who are part of the program across Southeast Missouri and they're all available on the Missouri Department of Conservation website, so you can find a processor close to where you are.

JM:

Yeah, I see a list right here. So, Elderland Meats in Zalma; Jackson Frozen Foods in Jackson, Ozark Meats in Grandin. These are all in our listening area: Walker's Meat Processing in Fredericktown; Stonies’ Sausage Shop in Perryville; Oberle Meats in St. Genevieve and Piedmont Processing, as you mentioned before, in Piedmont. So that's just a few that are just in this area that are participating in this program.

As we move into the holiday season, Thanksgiving will be here next week—it is hard to believe. There's also a lot of things that you do throughout the holidays and your distributions, if you don't mind talking about that, and how things will look throughout the rest of this month and December.

HC:

Absolutely. You know the holidays are a very busy time for us. We are distributing a lot of food at the end of the year, we are going to be doing holiday mobile distributions--one in each of our 16 counties. There will be eight in November and eight in December. And those pantries provide families with, I think, either a ham or a chicken depending on the location, and potatoes, stuffing, some sort of dessert, green beans--you know all the things you want for a holiday meal. Because if you are thinking about, you know, how you're going to afford lunch meat, it's really hard to think how you're going to have a Thanksgiving feast. So, we really want to make sure that we're giving families the opportunity to enjoy the holidays without the stress that comes along with putting food on the table. And we are not able to do any of that without our donors. So we also have a lot of special opportunities for our donors during the holiday season. ‘Giving Tuesday’ will be the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. That's November 29th, this year. That's one thing we're doing for donors, we're going to have open volunteer days, we're going to open the volunteer center in Sikeston, on ‘Giving Tuesday’, if you can't give financially, you can give time, and help us pack senior boxes and holiday mobiles. But yeah, it's a very busy time for us getting food distributed to the people we serve-- more than 70,000 individuals every month in Southeast Missouri.

JM:

I think you said a sixteen county service area, is that right? That's right. That's a really large service area. So, if people want to know, how can people find [the location of that] next Mobile Food Pantry? Is there an easy way to find that?

HC:

Definitely, you can go to semofoodbank.org and click ‘get help’. And we have a mobile pantry calendar there. So, you can see when we will have multiple distributions in your county. We're doing a lot, like I said, at the end of the year--sometimes two or three times more a week than we normally do. And then we will also have our regular pantries doing distributions still through the end of the year. And if you live in Cape County, you can go to our pantry locator on semofoodbank.org, and find all of the agencies in Cape county who will be able to help you, for example. But we have agencies in each of our 16 counties. So, there are resources available.

JM:

And I suppose this part is important to mention too. You're only allowed to receive food from that distribution [location] in your county of residence. Talk about what you need to bring when you show up.

HC:

Yeah, so we do ask that you receive food in your county. That's how we track our distributions. And we want to make sure everybody is getting served equally. You need to bring a photo-ID and you need to bring a piece of mail like a utility bill, or some sort of official mail with your address that shows you to live in that county where you're receiving food--and that's it.

JM:

And there's a lot of people who are un-housed, how does the SEMO Food Bank reach out to them?

HC:

We work with the un-housed community in a variety of ways. Some of our agencies are soup kitchens, and so there are feeding sites that are doing meals for the un-housed and other populations. We can also help with SNAP applications. So, we have a staff member who solely focuses on helping with those Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program applications. And so, we have the un-housed community who is receiving SNAP benefits, so that they can get food, when they're able to. So, if you are un-housed and you're needing assistance, definitely reach out to us and we'll do everything we can to get food for you.

JM:

All right, well, thank you so much. And if people want to find out more information about anything that we've talked about, of course, they can go to krcu.org. But you can also find a lot of that on your website. What is that?

HC:

semofoodbank.org. And then, we're also on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and we have a lot of information on our social media as well.

John Moore:

All right, well, thank you so much. We've been speaking with Heather Collier, who is the Donor Relations Manager at the Southeast Missouri Food Bank. Thank you so much.

Heather Collier:

Thanks, John. Have a great day.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

John is a proud 2006 Alum of Southeast Missouri State University, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communication – Radio option, with a minor in Management. He has been a life-long listener of KRCU Public Radio, but began his radio career as a student DJ on Rage 103.7 KDMC-LP in 2003.