CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WTWO/WAWV) — Hunters still have time to donate a deer to an Illinois program aimed at getting the meat to residents in need.

With the 2022-2023 hunting season coming to an end on January 15, the Illinois Extension is reminding hunters they still have time to make a donation.

Deer that are donated to the program are processed into ground venison, which is then shared with food pantries in 12 east-central Illinois counties, including Clay, Coles, Cumberland, DeWitt, Douglas, Effingham, Fayette, Jasper, Macon, Moultrie, Piatt, and Shelby counties.

Those receiving the meat are also given recipes and cooking resources to help with the preparation at home.

Hunters in Clay, Coles, Crawford, Effingham, and Shelby counties that have an extra tag left to fill can take advantage of the late-winter season held Jan. 13-15. Hunters who donate a deer will not be required to pay the processing fee for deer taken to one of six meat processing partners.

Partnering processors include:

“We have had great success with this program thus far.” said Michelle Fombelle, SNAP-Ed Extension educator. “We are thankful for those hunters who have donated and are able to feed thousands of families.”