The opening of Iowa deer-hunting shotgun season offers a chance to do more to help the needy. Barbara Prather with the Northeast Iowa Food Bank in Waterloo says government funding helps run the program called “HUSH.” It clears the way for hunters to donate their deer to charity. They may like to hunt but have a family who won’t eat venison, or have several deer permits and can’t use it all. They can take it to an approved locker and donate the animal, and the state pays for processing so the meat can go to this or other foodshelves to be distributed to the pantries who give it to clients. One reason they can do it, she explains, is that the organization has equipment to keep fresh food now, in addition to the canned goods traditionally handled by food shelves. They have a fridge and freezer, so the food bank can take frozen foods and fresh produce. She notes organizers strongly feel the best food is fresh. Prather says demand just keeps growing. They’re serving about 1100 families a month, double the client base in 2001, and it’s gone up just in recent months. Member agencies that receive the food banks’ supply and dole it out are also increasing in number. And Prather says families who want to share a holiday project by helping the food bank won’t go wrong with the standard bag of groceries, if she got her wish list. Canned foods are high-demand items, she says, and as fast as they get them they go back out the door. The first shotgun season runs today (Saturday) through Wednesday (12/7), and the second is December 10th through the 18th.