Ohio deer hunters have donated more than 79,750 pounds of venison to local food banks since opening day of deer season on September 24, according to Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife.
The 1,595 donated deer equal approximately 319,000 meals for needy Ohioans. Last year at this time, 2,082 deer had been donated representing 104,100 pounds of venison. The Division of Wildlife reminds hunter that there are plenty of opportunities to pursue deer in the 2011-12 season.
"I'm proud of Ohio's deer hunters who continue to show their generosity despite overall lower harvest numbers this year as compared to last," says Scott Zody, chief ODNR Division of Wildlife. "I encourage hunters to get out in the field, enjoy the rest of the season and to consider donating any extra deer they are fortunate enough to harvest."
FHFH collected 125,150 pounds of venison from 2,503 deer during all of last year's season, which ran from September 25, 2010 to February 6, 2011.
The Division of Wildlife collaborated with FHFH to assist with the processing costs associated with donating venison to a food bank. The program allows for subsidy grants to be provided in allotments that are matched with funds generated or collected by local Ohio FHFH chapters. The division subsidized this year's FHFH operation as an additional deer management tool, helping wildlife managers encourage hunters to harvest more does.
Venison that is donated to participating food banks must be processed by a federal, state or locally inspected and insured meat processor. Hunters wishing to donate their deer are not required to pay for the processing of the venison as long as the program has funds available to cover the cost.
Currently, there are 78 participating meat processors across the state and 34 FHFH local chapters. Anyone interested in becoming a local program coordinator or a participating meat processor should visit the "Local FHFH" page at www.fhfh.org. The Web page includes a list of coordinators, program names and the counties they serve.