Iron County hunters, wildlife group, meat processor donate food to community

 Pat Sommers packages meat to donate in Iron County. (WLUC Photo)
Pat Sommers packages meat to donate in Iron County. (WLUC Photo) (WLUC)
Published: Jan. 15, 2020 at 4:42 PM EST
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In Iron County, local hunters, a wildlife group and a meat processor have banded together to help feed the community, in one of the tastiest ways to give back.

"We're donating a lot of ground venison, some ground moose and some ground bear meat that has been donated from all of the hunters throughout the season,” said Pat Sommers, the Owner of Sommers Sausage Shop.

This project began about 20 years ago, when Wildlife Unlimited, a local Iron County group, found a way to help people in need.

"I'm one of the originators from Wildlife. I was at the informational meeting and I've been there ever since. This is great the greatest thing we can do for them,” said the Vice President of Iron County’s Wildlife Unlimited, Larry Pifke.

That need is high said Louise Holmes, the President at St. Vincent de Paul in Crystal Falls.

"We're here for them, and we serve a great need, and we want to welcome them in for anything and if we can be a resource and help they find anything they need,” she said.

This all happens with the help of Sommers Sausage Shop that grinds and packages the meat. The group has donated almost 18,000 pounds to St. Vincent de Paul food pantries in Iron River and Crystal Falls.

This year was a big one, with 500 pounds of donations, including moose meat for the first time, coming from a donation by the DNR.

All of this food gets stacked in the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry's freezer, while it waits for people to come pick it up. Organizers say it goes fast.

"What surprised me to hear people requesting wild game, so when we have it, it goes,” said Holmes.

"It doesn't last long in the food pantries. It's very good, nutritious meat that they don't normally have to give out to people. So it's great to be able to help the community,” said Rick Commenator, Iron County Wildlife Unlimited President

Sommers says this annual effort will continue as long as he is in business.

"I hope that it continues on for a good many years, and that all the hunters will continue to help out with feeding those who are less fortunate,” he said.