Deer donations down - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Deer donations down

by John Wilmer

ORAN (KWWL) -- Right now many Iowa families are trying to figure out how they are going to eat dinner. The USDA estimates 330,000 Iowans go to bed hungry, but a program called HUSH, or "Help Us Stop Hunger" is working to change that.

HUSH is made up of hunters, the Food Bank of Iowa, meat lockers and the DNR. Last year, hunters donated 8,300 deer, creating 1.5 million meals for the hungry. This year those numbers are down as hunters save venison for their own meals.

Lockers across eastern Iowa have seen fewer deer being brought in to be processed, but those that are coming in are being processed in such a way to get the most out of the meat. 

The Oran Locker is one of almost 90 lockers across the state that participates in the hush program.  Dave Boise a butcher at the Oran Locker says they have seen fewer deer coming in this year compared to years past.

"Usually we see between 800 and 1000 deer a year. We're down a little bit probably by 200 or 300 deer," Boise said.

With less deer there is also less being donated.  The Northeast Iowa Food Bank in Waterloo is feeling that burden. Right now the food bank is down about 1,800 pounds of deer meat. At this time last year they had already received 20,000 pounds of meat. As of now they have only received about 18,000 pounds. Officials with the food bank say a majority of the meat is donated in January and February so they hope donations increase.

As for hunters they are keeping the meat and making the most out of it.  

"I think they're keeping it for themselves instead of making or getting the smoked products. They are doing a lot of fresh stuff like hamburger, chops, stuff like that," Boise said.

Butchers say an average size doe can produce around 45 pounds of meat. If a family only uses a pound per meal that one deer could produce 45 meals for just one family.

Online Reporter: John Wilmer

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