Ten years ago, Help Us Stop Hunger was launched in Iowa. The program is a collaborative effort between the Food Bank of Iowa and Iowa Department of Natural Resources that has two purposes: stamping out hunger and helping thin out the Iowa deer population.
The program’s basis is simple: excess deer meat harvested by Iowa hunters is donated and then allocated to the hungry.
To participate in the program, a hunter is asked to buy an extra antlerless-only deer permit and from there, they do what they do best — hunt. Once they bag a deer, hunters can take it to the closest locker to have it processed.
During processing, the skin and bone are removed and the meat is ground up into two-pound packages and transferred to affiliates of the DNR and Food Bank of Iowa for proper distribution.
DNR employee and HUSH coordinator Jim Coffey praised the program in a recent statement:
“We asked our hunters to harvest additional deer to reduce the herd size and the HUSH program gave them an option to donate the additional venison to help their fellow Iowans in need,” Coffey said. “We have a lot of lockers who enjoy the program and participate because it supports their local community.”
The Mingo Locker, located at 102 W. Main Street in Mingo, is the only participating locker in Jasper County.
Each locker gets $75 per deer it processes. The food bank also receives a $5 donation for every processed deer that is distributed. According to the food bank’s website, “for every $1 donation, the Food Bank of Iowa can provide 4.5 meals.”
Executive Director of the Food Bank of Iowa Carey Miller enjoys the partnership, as well.
“We are so grateful for this partnership and program,” Miller said. “It has helped put a high-protein, low-fat product into the hands of hungry Iowans.”
Since its inception, HUSH has processed 56,000 deer netting 2,354,696 lbs. of venison and provided 11,000,000 meals, according to the DNR.
The DNR site also states that the 2011-2012 season generated one million meals and had more than 6,000 deer donated.
Rules that the DNR ask hunters to abide by are as follows:
• All deer hunters must have a deer permit to harvest deer, whether or not they donate the deer to HUSH. Donated deer must be tagged before being transported, just as any other harvested deer.
• Any legally-taken, wild Iowa deer from any season and any sex may be donated at any one of the lockers shown on the HUSH Locker List map
• Hunters must donate the whole deer.
• Deer must be field dressed; lockers prefer a clean carcass without mud on the hide.
• Lockers also prefer the carcass not be frozen.
• Deer hunters must fill out a Hunter HUSH Card at the locker for each deer being donated.
• HUSH does not accept road-killed deer
• Lockers cannot require hunters to skin or bone HUSH deer.
•There is no additional fee to be paid at the locker.
Staff Writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641)-792-3121, Ext. 426, or firstname.lastname@example.org