ANNAPOLIS, Md. – A new program helps out both hunters and the hungry.  The Venison Food Relief Program provides deer meat for the Anne Arundel County Food Bank to share with families in need.

According to County Executive Steuart Pittman, the money for the program comes from federal CARES Act funding. The program offers licensed deer hunters $50 for each deer they legally harvest. The venison meat then goes to the food bank.

Meat is one of the most expensive food items and it’s often a challenge for food banks to provide it to those in need. Venison is a high-protein low-fat option, and just one deer can provide enough meat for dozens of people.

Damage by deer is a big problem for farmers and Pittman hopes this program will help control the population. “Past efforts to reduce the deer population through managed hunts and crop damage permits have not been effective because no incentives were offered to hunters. This first-in-the-state program will have the dual benefit of getting quality meat to our food bank for residents who need it, and reducing the population of deer that would otherwise destroy next year’s crops. It’s smart and it’s cost-effective.”

Hunters participating in the program must have all required licenses and permit and stick to Maryland Department of Natural Resources rules for hunting.

The program runs November 1 through December 30.

Hunters will need to bring their deer to Harwood Butcher Shop, 4531 S. Polling House Road in Harwood, MD for processing. The required green tag must be attached and the proper forms completed. They’ll be paid by the processor.

If the program proves successful, additional processors could be added at a later date.