EFFINGHAM, Ill. (WCIA) — As prices continue to skyrocket, the Illinois Deer Donation Program is asking hunters to give deer meat to feed the hungry in Central Illinois.

SNAP-Ed Extension Educator Michelle Fombelle said it’s been a successful first year.

“This Sunday is the end of deer season and deer-hunting season,” said Fombelle. “Thankfully through the generous donations of many hunters, they donated their harvested deer to our partnering meat processors.”

Morgan’s Meat Market in Mattoon is one of six meat processors in Central Illinois that let’s hunters donate venison, known as deer meat, for free.

“Big thanks go out to the hunters,” Owner Mike Love said. “They’re the ones that did all the work. They’re the ones that went out and shot the animal and made the decision to donate it. They could’ve taken it home and put in their freezer. So, they’re just as much a part of this as we are.”

Once the meat is processed it’s delivered to 12 partnering food pantries.

Shumway Food Pantry in Effingham is one of them. Director Vickie Kight is thankful the program is providing alternatives for high-priced meat. The venison comes with some lessons on serving it.

“Thank goodness that they gave recipes,” Kight said. “Folks around here do not know how to cook it, what to do with it. So, they needed to be educated right off the bat.”

Since hunting season began in October, the Illinois Deer Donation Program has handed out 6,000lbs of deer meat and more than 24,000 meals in East-Central Illinois.

People who don’t hunt but would like to donate money here.