2014-03-27 / Outdoors

Record support for hunger program

Hunters, anglers give to Mich. food banks

LANSING – Thanks to the generosity of many hunters and anglers, Michigan food banks and kitchens will have more fresh venison for meals provided to their visitors. During the 2013-14 license year, the Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger program received more than $50,000 – a record amount – in donations from Michigan outdoorsmen and women.

This voluntary donation program has been part of Michigan’s hunting and fishing licensebuying experience since 2005, but achieved a record donation level last year.

“Our retail sales system that is used to sell hunting and fishing licenses was upgraded in 2013, and one of the benefits was making the donation process more convenient for both the buyer and seller,” said Ray Rustem, MSAH advisor for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “This improvement led to a four-fold increase in the number of donors – 44,000 – and helped us achieve this amazing level of support.”

When a hunter or angler purchases a license, the sales system is set up to ask if they would like to make a donation to Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger, a nonprofit organization that coordinates the venison collection for the DNR. Collected funds are then turned over to MSAH. During the deer hunting season, hunters also are encouraged to donate a deer to the program by dropping it off at a local participating meat processor, which then submits a voucher back to MSAH for reimbursement of processing costs. Processed venison then makes its way to a local food bank or kitchen.

Dean Hall, chairman of the MSAH board of directors, is pleased with the level of donations.

“Over the last few years the venison collection program has been limited by the amount of donations we have received through the Sportsmen Against Hunger campaign,” Hall said. “This additional revenue will help us increase our ability to encourage more processors to participate and increase the pounds of venison that we distribute across the state.”

Hall said that last year more than 30,000 pounds of venison were distributed through the MSAH program.

“This donation allows the food banks and food kitchens to provide a nutritional source of protein in over 150,000 meals,” Hall added. “Many of those who benefited were elderly people on fixed incomes and families who work, but need additional support.”

For more details on Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger or how to make a monetary or deer donation, visit the organization’s website at www.sportsmenagainsthunger.org.

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