Generous Deer Hunters Double Venison Donations to Ohioans in Need 116,750 pounds of venison donated

Ohio deer hunters have donated more than 116,750 pounds of venison to local food banks through the 2009-10 deer hunting season, according to Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry (FHFH) and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Wildlife.

The 116,750 pounds of venison equals approximately 467,000 meals for Ohioans in need. Last year, FHFH collected 54,800 pounds of venison throughout the season. A total of 2,336 deer was donated this deer hunting season compared to 1,096 in 2008-09 and 418 in 2007-08.

"With the dedication of FHFH local coordinators and Ohio hunters' generosity, this deer donation program has grown every year," said Jim Marshall, assistant chief of the Division of Wildlife. "I expect next year's donation numbers to be even better."

The Division of Wildlife has collaborated with Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry for the last three 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 65 participating meat processors across the state. A list is provided at www.fhfh.org.

Currently, there are 30 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.

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