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RAPID CITY, S.D. – Hunters who need to clear freezer room for this year’s deer, elk, and other wild game can help needy South Dakotans by donating game meat to the South Dakota Sportsmen against Hunger program.

The program will hold a “Clean Out Your Freezer” food drive from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12, in Rapid City. Hunters can drop off frozen game meat at any of the city’s three Family Thrift stores during the drive. The program also accepts donations of non-game meat and other non-perishable food items.

“Our whole purpose is to get healthy game meat to the people who really need it,” said Jeff Olson, president of South Dakota Sportsmen Against Hunger. “We can’t give the food banks enough meat.”

The state’s two food banks supply nearly 500 organizations in South Dakota. The organizations need meat from deer and other big game animals, Olson said. He encourages other communities across the state to organize similar food drives.

“ Hunters have accomplished amazing things in the Sportsmen Against Hunger program’s 15 years,” Olson said. “In that time, more than 345,261 pounds of game meat made it to the state’s needy, or enough meat for nearly 1.4 million meals.”

The Sportsmen Against Hunger program set a record for donations last year and has brought more processors on board, he said.

If hunters can’t make it to the Clean Out Your Freezer drive, they can individually take professionally processed and packaged meats to the Black Hills Regional Food Bank in Rapid City, Second Harvest Food Bank in Sioux Falls, or to any food pantry that accepts direct donations. Hunters are encouraged to tell the food bank or pantry that the donation is for the Sportsmen Against Hunger program. The donations are tax deductible.

Hunters also can help by donating processed meat from game animals harvested this fall. Call 800-456-2758 to find out where to take game animals. Sportsmen Against Hunger, game processors, and the state Game, Fish and Parks Department are making it even easier for hunters to contribute this year. Hunters can donate antlerless deer and does, or kid antelope, to any participating processor and fill out a short form. Processors receive $50 for each form returned to the state.

“I encourage hunters to fill their antlerless deer and antelope tags and donate the game to this program,” Olson said. “They will help with the management of wildlife populations and provide a charitable service.”

The Black Hills Sportsmen, Game, Fish and Parks, Black Hills Regional Food Bank and Second Harvest Food Bank all sponsor South Dakota Sportsmen Against Hunger.

Considerations for Conducting a Sportsmen Against Hunger
“Clean Out Your Freezer” Food Drive

Check with a local food pantry, or the Community Food Banks office in Sioux Falls (1-877-366-3265) or Rapid City (1-800-211-4633), to find out if there is interest in receiving frozen game meat from a “Clean Out Your Freezer” food drive in your community.

If so, determine from the pantry or food bank what will be accepted in terms of the kinds of game meat, age of game meat, home and/or commercially processed meat. Also determine food storage arrangements, and pick up and delivery arrangements.

Possibly plan and coordinate with other organizations in the community.

Select a date and hours of day to conduct the food drive. A Saturday in September or October just prior to the major deer hunting seasons usually works well as long as it does not conflict with the opening of another season. Select at least one food drop-off location that is well-known to the public, and make arrangements with the location owner. Provide plenty of publicity at least 2-3 weeks in advance of the food drive. Arrange for media coverage of the drive.

Arrange plenty of coolers to temporarily store frozen meat at drop-off locations until it can be taken to pre-arranged freezers. At least one person involved in conducting the food drive should be at each drop-off location to answer questions, monitor cooler space, and provide timely delivery of the frozen meat to a freezer for permanent storage until needed by the food pantry or food bank. Report results back to the community with thanks.

Those with questions should contact Jeff Olson (605-342-2445) or Ron Fowler (605-280-4977).




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