Local meat market hunting to fight hunger in Iowa

DAVENPORT, Iowa  -- A program in Iowa allows hunters to donate their harvested deer to benefit hungry people in the community.

Johnnie's Meat Market in Davenport is one of 80 markets in Iowa processing deer meat for Iowa food banks. It's part of a statewide program called "Help Us Stop Hunger" or HUSH.  HUSH is a collaborative effort among Iowa deer hunters, Iowa’s food banks, and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Hunters can take a whole deer to Johnnie's Meat Market, where they will process the deer meat for free. The meat then goes to Iowa food banks, like River Bend Food Bank.

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. HUSH does not accept road-killed deer.

"It's really meaningful to have a program like this that can provide badly needed protein for people who don't have enough food to eat," River Bend CEO Mike Miller said.

River Bend Food Bank gets over 1,000 pounds of HUSH meat from Johnnie's. They get over 5,000 pounds of HUSH meat a year. Depending on the size of the animal, over 170 meals can come from one deer.

"It's a great program," Johnnie's Meat Market owner Kent Dopler said. "You have a resource out there that can be harvested and utilized for a great thing. I mean people that need the food are getting the food."

Last year donations added up to more 600,000 meals for Iowans. For a list of all participating HUSH lockers,  click here.