David Neier, an 11-year old student, is putting out a call for help this coming hunting season.
An avid hunter himself, David saw a problem in his community two years ago, and took the initiative to fix it.
“It was Sunday, and we just got out of church service, and we were at McDonalds, and I said ‘I’m really upset,’” David said. “We were talking about the Backpack Program, and I said to my [grandmother] ‘I’m really upset that the people in my area do not have food.’”
David was practically born wearing orange and camouflage; the first time he ever saw a dead deer was when his grandfather Adam Neier brought home a kill when David was 3.
“I was out there in the backyard straddling a big old buck,” David said.
Planning on hunting that season two years ago, the then 9-year-old David had said he’d donate his deer to a food pantry if he bagged one.
He and his grandparents and started by finding a place to give the meat to. They contacted a small Baptist church in New Melle, and they told the family that the Foristell food pantry had been “begging” to get meat donated. Then the idea grew.
To get more people involved, he went door to door in his community and began his “Hunt for Hunger” campaign as friends, family, neighbors and other hunters agreed to participate. After reaching out to Share the Harvest and Operation Food Search, they joined with David in his effort and allowed hunters to donate their deer at no cost to the hunter.
“They picked up the tab for every single deer that was processed,” David said. “They were a big help for us.”
Cathy Neier, David’s grandmother, said David helps out with Share the Harvest’s deliveries as a way to repay them for their assistance.
“We’re very proud of him, he does a great job, he loves going to food pantries, he loves delivering it,” Cathy said. “The food pantries, they’re already calling us right now, saying ‘when are you going to have venison?’ And I’m like, ‘unless I hit one with a car, it’s not hunting season yet.’”
In 2017, with the support of Dan’s Country Meats and Share the Harvest they were able to process and deliver 1,500 pounds of venison to local food pantries.
“That first year, we just stayed in our little town, we used one processor, Dan’s Country Meats, and then the next year we expanded it…and that grew a lot then,” David said.
Last year, Josephville Meat Processing Company in Wentzville was added as a processer and once again with the support of both processors and Share the Harvest the total exceeded 6,000 pounds.
With the average deer yielding around 50 pounds, “that would be a lot of deer,” David said.
St. Charles’ County Executive Steve Ehlmann recognized David for his efforts, and Missouri House Rep. Bryan Spencer of District 63 even sponsored a resolution as a mark of esteem for the 11-year-old.
His hopes are high that 2019’s Hunt for Hunger will be an even bigger success, but to ensure that he’s back to knocking on doors and raising awareness about the program – and not just in St. Charles County.
“He’s going to hit the door running Saturday morning, and he’ll be handing out flyers to all the businesses out here, and he will be going to a couple of areas out towards Moscow Mills and into Troy, and hand out some flyers there, and hopefully get hunters aware of it,” Cathy said.
The cost of processing is free, and deer simply need to be field dressed before they are brought in. While Dan’s Country Meats did have to bow out of the program this year, Josephville Meat Processing is onboard to continue on.
“I think we’ll get a lot of meat this year,” David said. “And I think we’re going to help a lot of food pantries with it.”
Any hunters interesting in participating participate simply have to drop off their deer to Josephville; there is no charge to the hunter if you tell them it’s for the Hunt for Hunger/Share the Harvest program. If you’re not a hunter but would like to help contact Josephville Meat Processors and tell them you would like to donate ground beef. All donations will be distributed to area food pantries.
Josephville Meat Market is located at 1363 Josephville Road in Wentzville, and can be reached at 636-327-5455
For more information about Hunt for Hunger call Cathy at (636) 299-3291 or firstname.lastname@example.org.