Hunters can help feed hungry by donating venison

Michigan’s hunters know firsthand the pride and satisfaction of being able to bring home a nutritious meal of wild game to the family supper table. They also know how hard it can be sometimes to provide that food.

Nearly 1.5 million Michigan residents — 15 percent of our residents and 18 percent of our children — live with the stress of not knowing when they will eat again, of not having a secure food source.

As we head toward the holidays and the firearm deer hunting season, hunters can help make a positive impact on this problem by donating venison to a family in need through Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger.

Since 1991, this group has helped connect donors, wild game processors and charities that feed people in need.

The board of this all-volunteer, unpaid organization — sportsmen and women concerned about making a positive difference in their communities — works to coordinate processing of deer harvested by hunters with local, licensed game processors throughout Michigan.

Over the past quarter-century, food banks, pantries and shelters have distributed an estimated 608,000 pounds of venison donated by hunters. This translates to more than 3 million meals provided to struggling families.

Hunter donations of venison add up to more than 20,000 pounds each year, providing over 100,000 meals.

Hunters can donate a whole deer, or a portion, by visiting a participating game processor. A list of processors involved in the program is available by calling the Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger hotline at 1-586-552-6517 or by going online to www.sportsmenagainsthunger.org.

Game processors are reimbursed by the pound. They also work with local food banks or soup kitchens to distribute ground venison.

Monetary donations can be made to the Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger program when purchasing a hunting or fishing license. These funds help cover the costs of processing, packaging and transporting donated venison.

This year, with the generosity of hunters – and the financial support of hunters and non-hunters – 32 different community agencies have received a total of over 20,000 pounds of ground venison. This significant donation is from just 16 different processors working with the organization.

The Food Bank Council of Michigan is an important partner in the Sportsmen Against Hunger program, working to distribute donated venison across the state.

This annual initiative aligns with the council’s mission to create a food-secure Michigan, where each person has access to proper nutrition acquired by dignified means.

The council is uniquely positioned to help distribute the donated venison. Last year, the FBCM’s seven partner food banks, distributed more than 181 million pounds of food to over 2,800 food pantries in every Michigan county.

Michigan food banks work with Sportsmen Against Hunger to help bring quality meat to the tables of people in need.

In addition to the DNR and the Food Bank Council of Michigan, the program is sponsored by several organizations, including Safari Club International, Michigan United Conservation Clubs, Michigan Bow Hunters Association, Ted Nugent World Bowhunters and the United Methodist Men’s Club.

Hunters might consider donating to Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger. It’s a gratifying way to help friends and neighbors by providing healthy venison meals to families who need food.

Struggling families across Michigan will deeply appreciate your generosity, especially during the holiday season.

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