Venison Project helps feed the hungry for 25th year

GLADSTONE — For the 25th year in a row, hunters will have a chance to help feed their neighbors in Delta County.

Deer hunters who have game to spare can donate their deer to the Venison Project, which was organized by the late Barbara Nemacheck in 1991 when she saw both a need for — and a supply of — food in the area. Her husband Dave continues to carry the torch, and thanks to a collaboration between the Memorial United Methodist Church in Gladstone, Viau’s Market in Escanaba, and Soderman’s Meat Processing in Brampton, the project has been able to deliver astronomical amounts of meat to the Escanaba Salvation Army in addition to a mission in Detroit.

“We hope this year to reach a total of 30,000 pounds, which is fifteen tons of venison — which represents over 1,000 deer,” said Dave Nemacheck.

“It’s an amazing supplement to us, because it eliminates having to buy hamburger and hot dogs and things to go with our boxes,” Major Ralph Hansen, Salvation Army Corps Officer for Escanaba said. “I think there are a lot of people who look forward to getting some venison and having that with their meals.”

Nemacheck said that even when deer numbers were down last year, donations to Project Venison remained strong.

“I think hunters really like the feeling of donating. It makes them feel good, and people get fed,” added Nemacheck. “Sometimes people say, ‘how come you’re spending so much time hunting?’ Well, I’m trying to get a deer for the Venison Project. It kind of eases some of the strain.”

All that those wishing to participate need to do — other than bagging the buck —is to field dress their deer and bring it to Viau’s or Soderman’s. Viau’s Market is located at 1519 Sheridan Road in Escanaba, and Steve Soderman’s Meat Processing is located on 6207 Days River Road in Brampton — just north of Gladstone and not far from the Gladstone Golf Club.