Program allows hunters to donate venison for Minnesota food shelves
With thousands of Minnesota deer hunters taking part in the firearms season, the Minnesota Hunter Harvested Venison Donation Program is once again providing hunters with the option to donate venison to help feed hungry Minnesotans.
The venison donation program is operated by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and state food shelves. The program provides a source of protein to people in need while helping reduce local deer populations. Minnesota hunters donated 421 deer to the program in 2011, which provided 15,520 pounds of processed venison to Minnesota food shelves. Funding for the program comes from a $1 surcharge placed on deer bonus permits.
To be eligible to donate venison to the program, hunters must have their deer processed at a state-registered meat processing plant that has agreed to participate in the program. A list of processors can be found online by typing “venison processors” into the search field on MDA’s homepage at www.mda.state.mn.us. Hunters are urged to contact the processor before bringing in a deer to make sure they are still able to handle the animal.
Only entire carcasses with the hide attached can be donated. Cut and wrapped meat will not be accepted for donation. Hunters and processors must also adhere to specific standards designed to prevent food-borne illness. Processors may only accept carcasses for donation that are:
• Field dressed with the hide intact;
• Free from signs of illness;
• Free of visible decomposition or contamination; and
• Properly identified with a Minnesota DNR registration tag.