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Illinois Extension on the hunt for deer donation partners and sponsors

DECATUR, Ill. – One in 10 people in Illinois struggle with hunger every day, including one in eight children. The Illinois Deer Donation Program, a new pilot project to expand community access to venison protein is coming this fall to twelve east-central Illinois counties.

University of Illinois Extension educators coordinating the program are on the hunt for meat processors, hunters and hunting organizations, and food pantries in and around Clay, Coles, Cumberland, DeWitt, Douglas, Effingham, Fayette, Jasper, Macon, Moultrie, Piatt, and Shelby counties to join them.

The project will engage hunters to donate their deer and meat processors to produce ground venison, which will go to area food pantry clients. Clients will receive recipes and resources from Illinois Extension to help them prepare venison at home, which might be unfamiliar to some individuals and families.

“Our partners will make this program successful,” says Caitlin Mellendorf, Extension educator. “We look forward to building this network to increase food access in our communities, support our local businesses, and recognize the role of hunters.”

Organizations and community members are also encouraged to donate to the program. Donations will go toward reimbursing meat processors for their time and effort. For more about the program, to express your interest to be a partner, and to donate, visit

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

WRITER: Caitlin Mellendorf, Nutrition and Wellness Educator, University of Illinois Extension

ABOUT EXTENSION: Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities.