From the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department
-- Hunters donated about 97,000 pounds of game meat to needy individuals and families across South Dakota during the 2009 hunting seasons through Sportsmen Against Hunger, nearly reaching the organization’s goal of 100,000 pounds.
Sportsmen Against Hunger is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to find a convenient way for hunters to donate harvested game to needy families.
This past year, Sportsmen Against Hunger reimbursed participating meat processors for processing 2,045 antlerless deer and 261 doe/fawn antelope donated by hunters, an increase from the 1,946 antlerless deer and 354 doe/fawn antelope donated in 2008. In addition, hunters donated 245 buck deer, 54 buck antelope and 5,929 pheasants for which the hunters paid all processing costs.
Processed meat is periodically collected from participating processors and distributed to needy families and individuals across the state through more than 60 food pantries, which frequently are in short supply of fresh meat. Commercially processed game meat was also donated to food banks through a clean-out-your-freezer food drive in many areas, or was taken directly to food banks.
Total donations in 2009 amounted to 390,000 healthy meals for the needy.
“The generosity of hunters never ceases to amaze me” said Jeff Olson, president of South Dakota Sportsmen Against Hunger. “I am surprised by the increase, as donations of deer and antelope to SAH programs across the country were down in many states last fall. To show any increase at all really shows the sportsmen are becoming even more dedicated to this program in South Dakota.”
Sportsmen Against Hunger reimburses participating processors $50 for each antlerless deer donated. The certificate program is costly and the organization is always looking for new ways to fund the program.
Last season, sportsmen donated almost $30,000 to SAH through an optional check-off program when applying for big-game tags. Hunters are encouraged to support the program by contributing through the check-off program when applying for 2010 tags.
To make a tax-deductible donation or see a complete list of participating processors in South Dakota, visit www.feedtheneedsd.com
The Game, Fish and Parks Department has been a significant supporter of Sportsmen Against Hunger. Other support has come for many years through grants from Wal-Mart, Scheels, the Elmen Foundation, the Great Dacotah Chapter of Safari Club International, and the Black Hills Advertising Federation.
“Many people contribute to the continuing success of Sportsmen Against Hunger,” Olson said. “They include hunters who harvest a few more deer than they would normally take, the 49 participating game processors who generally reduce their fees for processing donated game, food pantries that distribute the donated game meat, and hunters, private donors and corporations making generous contributions to the program in South Dakota.”
“Sportsmen Against Hunger volunteers and all those who have benefited from the donated meat send a big Thank You to all participants in another banner year for the program,” he said.