Program seeks hunters willing to donate venison to feed the hungry

Ohio hunters fed a lot of people in recent months by participating in the Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry program. From last winter’s deer harvest Ohio hunters donated more than 125,150 pounds of venison, tasty and nutritious meat that provided the main course at food banks for over a half million meals.

What a great program FHFH has become. Donations for the 2010-11 hunting seasons numbered 2,503 deer. In 2009-10 hunters donated 2336, 1,096 in 2008-09, and 418 in 2007-08.

Vicki Mountz, acting chief of the Division of Wildlife, said 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 a half million meals to Ohio food banks,” she said.

Collaboration

The Division of Wildlife has collaborated with FHFH since the program began four years ago in an effort to assist with the processing cost associated with donating meat to a food bank. The DOW grants monies that are matched by local FHFH chapters though fundraisers and donations.

Whitetails Unlimited chapters are supportive of FHFH through their annual banquet fundraisers. The DOW subsidizes the program as a deer management tool, encouraging hunters to kill more does — a strategy which has been further encouraged by reducing the price for doe tags and allowing liberal limits.

Meat donated to food banks must be processed by a federal, state or locally-inspected and insured meat processor that is participating in the FHFH program. Hunters don’t pay for processing as long as there are funds available. There are currently 73 meat processors involved with 34 FHFH chapters across Ohio, with a need for more.

Need

So who is thinking about donating venison now, several months from the 2011-12 hunting seasons? It takes an effective coordinator, planning, a meat processor and time to put together a working FHFH program. Care to step up?

The National Shooting Sport Foundation has released some interesting national statistics about hunters. First thing on the list is no surprise, at least not to spouses of hunters. Hunters spend a lot of money in pursuit of their prey.

When it’s all totaled, hunters affect the national economy to the tune of $66 billion. And of course hunters contribute a huge share of the money intended for conservation.

Today’s hunters are mobile, but that’s no surprise at all. Active, serious hunters pile on the miles, often heading out of state for additional hunting opportunities. The average age of hunters is mid-40s and the total number of the nation’s hunters is right around 14,700,000.

About the Author

Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer, and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian. More Stories by Mike Tontimonia

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