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Hunters Hope to Help Fill MI Food Banks

PHOTO: Thousands of hunters will head to the woods today, many of them helping to fill the plates of the state's needy. Photo courtesy Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger.
PHOTO: Thousands of hunters will head to the woods today, many of them helping to fill the plates of the state's needy. Photo courtesy Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger.
November 15, 2013

LANSING, Mich. - As hunters across Michigan head for the woods today with the opening of firearms hunting season, many will be helping to feed the state's hungry, thanks to a program that connects processors, food banks, and the generous spirit of the state's sportsmen and women. For more than 20 years, the Lansing-based volunteer organization "Sportsmen Against Hunger" has made it possible for hunters to donate all or some of their wild game, simply by taking it to a participating processor at no charge, according to the group's vice president, Neal Easterbrook.

"I think it goes back to the beginning of time when one family was successful, whether it be harvesting wild game or harvesting crops, and would share with the community," he said.

Michigan hunters typically donate between 30,000 and 40,000 pounds of venison each year, which equates to about 250,000 meals for the needy. A list of approved processors is online at SportsmenAgainstHunger.org.

Easterbrook said the venison, which is low in fat and high in protein, fills an important dietary need for many of the state's hungry, and also frees up funds for the organizations that serve them.

"Nobody really donates meat, and in some of these charities and food banks, 80 percent of their food budget goes to purchasing meat," he pointed out.

Sportsmen Against Hunger teams up with the Food Bank Council of Michigan to pick up the venison from processors and distribute it to a network of more than 2700 church pantries, shelters, soup kitchens and other agencies statewide.

More information is at SportsmenAgainstHunger.org.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI