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Posted: 3/7/2002 2:25:24 PM EDT
Fighting hunger Hunters bring food and serve it The Florida Times-Union Community ; Northside ; N-1 March 6, 2002 Byline: Barbralyn Woodson, River City News correspondent Some dining hall staffers got a break Thursday when a group of hunters took over the food serving line at the Salvation Army's Social Service Center downtown. Members of the North Florida Chapter of the Safari Club International served venison chili to about 225 people as part of the group's Sportsmen Against Hunger annual donation and dinner. The group donated $1,000 to the center at 900 W. Adams St., along with about 1,000 pounds of venison from surplus stock. "It would be a shame to waste all of it," said chapter President Robert Olson, who also heads real estate development for the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission. "Some of these people haven't eaten in days, so it's rewarding to know that we are helping somebody." The Sportsmen Against Hunger program is part of the non-profit Safari Club Foundation, which is dedicated to creating a better understanding of the hunter's role in conservation and game management. A part of that, Olson said, is helping control the growing wild deer population through hunting. The other is sharing the group's bounty with the poor. "We're conservationists who hunt," he said. "Hunting is a part of conservation. We have to thin out the herd or there wouldn't be enough food to go around." The club also supports projects like the study of jaguars in Mexico and at the Jacksonville Zoo. The local Sportsmen Against Hunger program has been working with the Salvation Army for about five years, donating game like quail and duck throughout the hunting season. At season 's end, the group's 275 members gather their surplus for one major annual donation. In recent years, that donation has been in the form of venison, which, like beef, can be used to make many different kinds of dishes, including meatloaf, sausage, stroganoff, steaks and pot roasts. The meat has been skinned, quartered and processed and is ready to cook, Olson said. The Salvation Army receives donations from many community organizations annually, said Major Wayne McHargue, area commander for Northeast Florida, but having group members volunteer as servers is a rarity. "This is wonderful," he said. "This brings awareness of the level of homelessness and the level of need in this community." Olson said the chapter will continue to donate a portion of its game every year. The group will hold its annual fund-raiser in May at the Morocco Shrine Auditorium on St. Johns Bluff Road. "A lot of organizations just hunt," Olson said. "This organization does more than hunt. We're about helping people."
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