COLUMBUS -- Ohio hunters donated 1,170 white-tailed deer to local food banks to benefit Ohioans in need during the 2013 hunting season, according to Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry (FHFH) and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).
To date, food banks have received approximately 58,500 pounds of venison and 234,000 meals for needy Ohioans. One processed deer amounts to approximately 50 pounds of venison and 200 meals.
Venison donations will be accepted through the end of the deer-archery season, Feb. 2, 2014. Go to fhfh.org to find a local Ohio deer donation program.
Ohio ranks fifth nationally in hunter-donated venison, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Nationally, hunters provided more than 11 million meals to people in need.
Wild venison is among the most nutritious meats available. The meat is lean with little fat content and it is high in protein and iron. Wild venison has no additives or hormones, and is low in calories, fat and cholesterol when properly prepared.
The ODNR Division of Wildlife collaborates 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.
Venison 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 available funds.
Ohio has 77 participating meat processors and 33 FHFH local chapters. Anyone interested in becoming a local program coordinator or a participating meat processor can go to fhfh.org and click on the Local FHFH tab. The web site includes a list of coordinators, participating butchers and the counties they serve.
Hunters can also donate venison through Safari Club International's Sportsmen Against Hunger program. Learn more at safariclubfoundation.org. Whitetails Unlimited chapters also use local funds for programs such as venison donation. Go to whitetailsunlimited.com to find a local chapter and make a donation.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR web site at ohiodnr.gov.