The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation administers the “Hunters Against Hunger” program where deer hunters donate venison to food banks in the state.
It’s a worthy program that is becoming more needed each year. Last year hunters donated 39,725 pounds of venison that was distributed to needy families across Oklahoma.
It’s easy to participate. Hunters just need to deliver their deer to a meat processor that participates in the program. Those processors are listed in the Oklahoma Hunting Guide or they can be found on the Wildlife Department’s website at www.wildlifedepartment.com
Hunters are asked to contribute a $10 tax deductible donation to help with the processing costs, but it is not required.
Angie Gaines, marketing manager for the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City, said the need for donations is more critical than ever.
The food bank has 415 partner agencies that distribute food in 53 counties in western and central Oklahoma, and those agencies are reporting a 30 to 50 percent increase in need from the previous year.
And even though the agencies are receiving more donations of food, “We are still not meeting the increase in need,” Gaines said
The venison donations are very important because it helps ensure Oklahomans receive balanced meals of meat, vegetables and fruit, she said.
And they are also important because, in the winter, many needy Oklahomans have to choose between buying food or paying their heating bills, she said.
“That’s why donations are more important than ever during the holiday season,” Gaines said.