Alicia Plathe.

The Iowa DNR is asking deer hunters to take part in a program once again this year that donates venison to help feed the hungry.

Coordinator Alicia Plathe says the Help Us Stop Hunger or HUSH program has donated millions of meals since 2003. “Once a hunter is successful in their harvest and they register their harvest — they field dress their deer, take care of it just like it was their own to take to a locker or to process themselves — but instead, they will drop it off at one of our participating HUSH lockers,” Plathe.

She says the hunter fills out information and the locker processes the deer into two-pound tubes of pure ground venison. Those tubes of venison are taken to the Food Bank of Iowa for distribution. “It’s been a really good partnership for the hunters, especially when they are either done with their hunt or don’t hunt for consumption purposes. They have a good positive outlook for those deer once they are done,” Plathe says.

Plathe says the program was started to help those in need and has been able to supply many meals.  “I think we will break 15 million meals that have been donated since the conception of this program — which has been just about 20 years, not quite 20 years ago when it started — so that will be a good milestone for us to hit,” according to Plathe. “The last few years we’ve run anywhere from 25 to 4,000 deer that have been donated through the program. So, it’s not a small number that we are seeing every year.”

You can find information on the HUSH program on the DNR’s website at iowadnr.gov.

The DNR earlier this year announced a new database for sharing deer that is not linked to the HUSH program.