Hunters help end hunger problem in eastern Iowa communities - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Hunters help end hunger problem in eastern Iowa communities

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is turning to hunters to help feed area families. The Help Us Stop Hunger (HUSH) program asks deer hunters to donate their harvest to a local food bank. It's a much needed boost for pantries struggling to keep their freezers full.

Northeast Iowa Food Bank worker Shasta Schroder puts together carts of groceries for each of the pantry's clients. She tries to fill it with the makings of a complete meal, but as the NEIFB Executive Director Barb Prather explains, some of the healthiest items are the hardest to keep on the shelf. That includes fresh fruits, veggies, and especially meat.

"That's one of the toughest donations to get," said Prather.

They keep a constant supply of meat and produce in a small walk-in freezer at NEIFB. But the product goes out just as fast as it comes in, according to Prather.

"Just because it's more nutritious, it is expensive for families to have, for agencies to access," said Prather.

The HUSH program is putting a dent in that gap.

"It's enabled us to work with our lockers and hunters to give back to the community," Prather said.

In addition to the one they plan to keep, people are able to continue hunting for a deer to donate.

"They can take it to an approved locker, and that meat will be donated to the food bank," she explained.

These lockers are inspected by the FDA, so families know the venison is safe to eat. It's also healthier than some other proteins.

"Venison is very good for you. It's very lean," said Prather.

Last year, Iowa hunters donated more than 6,000 deer to the HUSH program, generating one million meals statewide. With more than 50,000 people in Eastern Iowa struggling to put food on their table, every meal counts.

"The need is still there. And we are very grateful for the community support that we get that can help us," Prather added.

For more information on the HUSH program, or to find a participating locker near you, click here.

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