Hunters this fall and winter can assist Illinois food pantries and help feed the needy by donating all or part of their deer harvest to the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger program.
"More than 19,817 pounds of venison were donated to the program last season providing more than 76,712 meals to needy people in Illinois," said Department of Natural Resources Director Brent Manning. "Thanks to the generosity of deer hunters and those making financial contributions to pay for processing the meat, thousands of people benefit from the program."
Hunters have donated almost 89,817 pounds of deer meat to the program since 1994. This year, 54 participating meat processors will package into ground meat the venison that is donated to the program, with distribution to food banks, charities, churches and food pantries throughout the state.
Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger is co-sponsored by the Department of Natural Resources and the Illinois Conservation Foundation.
Contributions through the Illinois Conservation Foundation help will help defray the cost of processing the meat for donations of whole deer. Hunters and others interested in assisting the program are asked to donate the $35 meat processing fee.
Donations of meat will be accepted beginning Oct. 1, the opening of the archery deer season, through the end of the handgun deer season on Jan. 20. The Foundation will begin assisting with processing costs beginning Nov. 1. Illinois law allows the donation of wild game to not-for-profit corporations and charitable organizations without liability.
In addition, the Department is selling an Illinois Big Buck lapel pin for $5 with the money raised going to the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger Program. For more information about the pin or to place an order, contact Merchandise Sales toll-free in Illinois at 800/720-3249 or outside of Illinois at 217/782-7454. The cost includes shipping and handling.
Financial contributions to the program may be made to the Illinois Conservation Foundation, 524 S. Second St., Springfield, IL 62701-1787. Checks may be made payable to the Illinois Conservation Foundation designating the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger program. Funds donated to the Foundation are tax-exempt to the fullest extent of the law since the Foundation is an IRS 501 (c)(3) approved organization.
Sportsmen may call 217/782-4963 for information on meat processors and local food pantries participating in the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger Program.