COLUMBUS, OH-The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife has collaborated with Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry (FHFH) in an effort to assist with the processing costs associated with donating venison to a food bank.
A $100,000 subsidy grant has been awarded to FHFH to help pay the processing fee on donated venison. The grant money is being provided in two $50,000 allotments that are to be matched with funds generated or collected by FHFH. The Division is subsidizing this year’s FHFH operation as an additional deer management tool, helping wildlife managers encourage hunters to kill more does.
“In establishing a dedicated fund, the division hopes to provide hunters with an option to donate excess venison to food banks throughout Ohio,” stated James Marshall, assistant chief of the Division of Wildlife. “By providing hunters with an affordable outlet for donating extra venison, the division hopes to ultimately encourage hunters to kill more does.”
Finding ways to kill more does will help wildlife managers keep Ohio’s deer population management plan on track. Deer hunters can again buy additional antlerless deer permits at reduced prices for the 2008-09 deer-hunting season. Cost of the antlerless deer permit remains at $15.
FHFH began in Maryland in 1997 after founder Rick Wilson encountered a woman along a Virginia highway looking for help loading a road-killed deer into her car to feed her children. Inspired to give hunters the opportunity to help feed the hungry, Wilson formed a program that would raise money to pay the butchering bills for hunters that donate deer.
Now over a decade old, FHFH has grown to include 120 local coordinators in 26 different states. Annual meat donation totals have topped 300,000 pounds-enough to provide meat for over 1.2 million meals-and are expected to increase even further in the coming years.
“Our partnership with Ohio is an exciting opportunity to jump-start our work in the state. We’ve always had strong interest in Ohio with regard to the number of FHFH coordinators that have signed on to work with us. Now we have this financial support from the Division of Wildlife to help us build on that foundation,” said Josh Wilson, FHFH operations director.
Anyone interested in becoming a local FHFH coordinator or a participating meat processor should visit the “Local FHFH” page at www.fhfh.org. The current list of coordinators along with their program names and the counties they are serving can be found there.
Venison that is donated to food banks must be processed by a state 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. The grant from the Division of Wildlife to FHFH is intended to help with the costs of venison processing.