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In Minnesota, charitable organizations that operate food assistance programs can accept donations of hunter harvested venison, provided specific program requirements are met. The program requirements have been designed to ensure that wholesome, safe product is being donated statewide.

Requirements for Charitable Organizations to participate in venison donation program


  • Prior to accepting donations, charitable organizations must register with the MDA by October 31 of each year.
  • Charitable organizations must meet the following criteria to register:
    • The charity must be registered under Minnesota Statutes Chapter 309 or 501C.
    • The organization must operate a food assistance programs.
    • Registration forms can be obtained by calling 651-201-6300.
  • All food charities must register individually to participate. Food charities associated with an America’s Second Harvest food bank will not be automatically registered with the MDA when the associated food bank is registered.

Criteria for Accepting Donated Product

  • Food charities can only accept Archery Harvested donated venison product from meat processors that have registered and been approved by the MDA. Plants must re-register each year to obtain approval for participating in the program. A list of approved plants will be available from the MDA.
  • Hunters are not allowed to donate venison directly to a food charity – they must work with an approved processing plant.
  • Venison harvested by firearms may not be donated directly to food banks or food shelf without x-ray scanning the product.
  • Food charities may accept the following products for this program:
    • Whole muscle cuts of venison
    • Ground single ingredient venison
  • The following products are not acceptable for the donation program:
    • Venison that has been mixed with meat from another species of animal or non-donated carcasses.
    • Sausage products or other multi-ingredient products.
    • Venison products that are not labeled with all of the required items (see below).
  • Donated products must be labeled with the following items:
    • “Hunted venison, for food donation only”
    • Plant identification number (if applicable) or name of plant
    • Date of processing
    • “Not for sale”
  • All products must be frozen prior to delivery to the food charity.
  • Firearm Harvested Venison: Shall not be distributed directly to the food shelf, it will be x-ray scanned before releasing to food shelf.
  • Archery Harvested Venison only: A receipt from the food charity that receives the venison must be provided to the registered meat processor at the time of delivery. The receipt is required for reimbursement for processing.
  • The receipt must have the following components:
    • The registration number of the charitable organization
    • Date of product delivery
    • Pounds of product delivered
    • Name of plant processing the product
    • Name and address of charity accepting the product
    • Signature of the food charity representative
    • Letterhead or other indicator that the receipt is from the food charity

Please note: Receipts written on the plant’s receipt book or other invoices from the plant will not be accepted as proof of donation.

Handling and Distributing Donated Product

  • Packages of donated venison must be distributed in their original packages.
  • Products must be kept frozen.
  • Donated venison must be distributed within approximately six months of the processing date. Any product not distributed at the end of nine months must be discarded.
  • Information on cooking and handling instructions must be provided to everyone receiving the product. These instructions must include proper storage temperature for products as well as the importance of cooking game products to 160-165°F, following good hygienic practices and preventing cross contamination.
  • A copy of the lead advisory must be distributed with all products.

Documentation of Distributions

Each participating food charity must submit two annual reports to the MDA documenting the following specific information about donations received. These include:

The Donated Product Receiving Log

  • This report includes documentation of:
    • The date venison was received
    • The amount that was received
    • The processor from whom the venison was received
    • This report must be submitted to the MDA after all products have been received, but no later than January 30 each year.

The Product Distribution Log

  • This report includes documentation of:
    • The organization or clientele that received the venison from the processor.
    • This report must be submitted to the MDA after all product has been distributed, but no later than July 31 of each year.

Food charities that receive venison directly from the processor must report the product received to their America’s Second Harvest food bank in addition to the MDA.

Copies of forms will be distributed to participating charities after registrations have been received and approved.

Limitations for Future Participation in the Program

The failure to follow program requirements will be considered when assessing potential program registrants in subsequent years. This may be cause for denial of future registration for a processor in some situations