(TMU) — Deer hunters in the state of Michigan have donated a record amount of venison and dollars to hungry families across the state this year, making a powerful contribution to food banks and shelters.
The campaign by non-profit group Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger (MSAH) puts meat—a costly item that is typically rare in food pantries—on dinner tables across the state in working-poor communities just in time for the holidays in a partnership with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Food Bank Council of Michigan.
According to the Rapidian, the organization has already smashed records this year with contributions of wild game to charities. Hunters have donated over 58,000 pounds of venison—roughly enough to serve 232,000 meals—and $100,000 to the group.
The amount surpasses last year’s record of 52,135 pounds of meat, or 208,580 meals, and $99,629, according to the all-volunteer organization.
Matt Pedigo, the chair of the Michigan Wildlife Council, said:
“These donations of meat and money are some of the many ways Michigan sportsmen and sportswomen make a positive impact on the quality of life in our state.
Sportsmen not only help protect and enhance our beautiful forests, waters and wildlife, they often support their neighbors in need.”
Since MSAH was founded in 1991, hunters have given almost 750,000 pounds of ground venison to charity, an amount equal to roughly 2 million meals’ worth of wild game.
The lean meat can be served in myriad ways—either made into sausage or hamburgers, served with rice or pasta, or prepared in any number of delicious ways.
The donations also provide a helping hand in the fight against hunger and malnutrition in the Great Lakes state. According to the Food Bank Council of Michigan, 16 percent of residents and 18 percent of all children in Michigan are currently experiencing high levels of insecurity—largely because of the high cost of food.
Kath Clark, director of food programs for the Food Bank Council, said:
“I am continuously amazed and grateful for the hunters helping us work toward a more food-secure Michigan. Venison is a great source of lean protein, which is so important to a healthy lifestyle.”
Food programs in the state typically enjoy their biggest boosts in late November, when over half a million hunters take to the wild with their guns during firearm deer season.
And deer hunting doesn’t only provide food banks with donations—it also supports nearly 136,000 jobs every year, according to Michigan United Conservation Clubs, while adding $8.9 billion to the state’s economy ever year.
Dean Hall, the executive director of MSAH, is proud of the contribution that hunters are making in the fight against hunger. He explained:
“Meat is something food banks, food pantries and shelters can never get enough of because it’s so costly.
Thanks to the generosity of hunters—whether they donate several pounds or a whole deer—we’re able to help fill thousands of hungry bellies every year.”