Ohio deer hunters have donated more than 125,150 pounds of venison to local food banks through the 2010-11 deer hunting season, according to Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife.
The pounds of venison equal approximately 500,600 meals for Ohioans in need. A total of 2,503 deer were donated this deer hunting season compared to 2,336 in 2009-10, 1,096 in 2008-09, and 418 in 2007-08.
"This program's popularity continues to grow," says Vicki Mountz, acting chief of the Division of Wildlife. "Each year there are more volunteer coordinators, more meat processors participating, and more venison going to good use. Ohio hunters should be proud of the fact they have donated half a million meals to local Ohio food banks."
The Division of Wildlife has collaborated with Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry for the last four years in an effort to assist with the processing costs associated with donating venison to a food bank. A subsidy grant was provided in allotments that are to be matched with funds generated or collected by local Ohio FHFH chapters. The division subsidizes this program as an additional deer management tool, helping wildlife managers encourage hunters to kill more does.
Venison that is donated to food banks must be processed by a federal, state or locally inspected and insured meat processor that is participating with FHFH. Hunters wishing to donate their deer to a food bank are not required to pay for the processing of the venison as long as the program has funds available to cover the cost. There are currently 73 participating meat processors across the state. A list is provided at www.fhfh.org.
Currently, there are 34 local chapters across the state with a need for more. 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 current list of coordinators, program names and the counties that they serve.