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Expanding food access to Illinois residents

One in 10 people in Illinois struggle with hunger every day, including one in eight children. When families are hungry, making healthier choices can be even more difficult. The Illinois Deer Donation Program provides a pathway to expand community access to lean protein throughout East-Central Illinois and reduce barriers to healthier lifestyles.

This pilot program will connect meat processors, hunters, and food pantries in twelve central Illinois Counties: Clay, Coles, Cumberland, DeWitt, Douglas, Effingham, Fayette, Jasper, Macon, Moultrie, Piatt, and Shelby. Even though Crawford County is not on this list, Hartrich Meats in Sainte Marie will donate meat to food pantries in Crawford County due to their large customer base from this area.

By engaging hunters to donate their deer and meat processors to produce ground venison, a local source of lean protein will be available to food pantry clients. Clients will also receive recipes and resources from Illinois Extension to help them prepare venison at home, which might be unfamiliar to some individuals and families.

Become a partner

Hunters, meat processors, and food pantries can connect with the project to make a local impact. Fill out our partner form at to indicate your interest and start the process. For more information about the program or on becoming a partner, contact Meredith Probst at

Donate today

Your sponsor donation helps reimburse meat processors for their time and effort.

Donate Online: Access secure and confidential online giving through University of Illinois Foundation. Visit, select "Other," and enter "University of Illinois Extension, HEAT Deer Donation" to begin.

The program is partly funded by the Health Equity Achieved Together Project (HEAT), a multi-disciplinary collaboration with University of Illinois Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider. This material is funded by USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - SNAP. College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. University of Illinois | United States Department of Agriculture | Local Extension Councils Cooperating.