Young and Hungry

Rock Creek Park Deer Become Pasta Ragu for the Homeless

The white-tailed deer killed in the National Park Service's recent population-control cull in Rock Creek Park will soon become a ground venison ragu atop whole wheat rotini baked with mozzarella cheese.

The National Park Service donated 600 pounds of venison to D.C. Central Kitchen, which will use the meat for its hot ready-to-eat meals distributed to homeless shelters throughout the city. DCCK Procurement Manager Stephen Kendall says the deer will provide 2,500 meals in one day. The venison pasta dish is scheduled to be on the menu early next week.

Kendall says the meal recipients will know that they're eating venison, although they likely won't know its controversial back story. The partner agencies serve the meals.

To assure that it's safe to eat, the National Park Service tested the meat for chronic wasting disease,  a neurological disease fatal to deer but not known to be transmitted to humans. DCCK receives the meat ground via a USDA-approved processor. "It looks just like ground beef," Kendall says. "That's the easiest form for us to use it in."

This isn't the first time DCCK has received a venison donation. It also gets deer meat from an organization called Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry, which raises funds to process meat that recreational hunters don't keep. Typically, DCCK gets 5,000 pounds of venison each season.

"We love to receive it," Kendall says. "It's a good lean protein."

CORRECTION: Due to a reporting error, this story previously stated that DCCK typically gets 500 pounds of venison each season. We missed a zero: it's 5,000. Also, DCCK doesn't work with another food service contractor to serve the meals; the partner agencies (i.e. shelters) serve the meals.

Photo by Flickr user Mr. T in D.C. used under a Creative Commons license.

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  • Emmy

    Giving meat from slaughtered wildlife doesn't make the notion that a promise made to the public not to kill the deer was broken okay. Nor does it it make it any less ridiculous that as other communities are using non-lethal, cost-effective ways to control wildlife populations, DC continues to kill wildlife in their own habitat. Guns and DC--seems to be a combination debated over and over. If claiming that it's going to be given to the homeless is supposed to make it okay, than what makes it okay to give them anything less than prime cuts the rest of the time? Or is it only when they kill wildlife that the homeless are truly considered?

  • Bambi

    You bastards!

  • Read Scott Martin

    "other communities ... using non-lethal, cost-effective ways" are failing to control their populations of deer. It's not an opinion, it's statistics. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has years of statistics on this. But, it is apparently humane to let the deer population grow until their food is gone because they have insufficient numbers of predators. Got it.

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  • SavetheDeer

    The soup kitchens don't have many patrons who want tough, stringy deer meat. Ask them if you don't believe it. And few people would knowingly eat venison obtained from does who were brutally murdered while pregnant. The Park service is performing a stunt to justify their unnecessary killing. They have admitted the deer in Rock Creek park aren't starving, their population numbers have been stable for over a decade, there are only 200 - 300 deer in the park and the park's biggest problem is invasive vines killing trees, not deer. Birth control, not bullets is the answer. For those who understand reproductive science, only half the deer (the females) are darted with a contraceptive that NPS has used before on other lands and knows to be successful in controlling deer and horse populations. NPS also knows that killing deer doesn't reduce the population because other deer fill the void. Communities that begin killing deer never stop because this never reduces the numbers. It can even inflate them. Wildlife scientists have shown that twin-fawn births are almost three times greater in hunted herds. Chicago has been killing for two decades and it has had no effect. In the Philadelphia suburb of Newtown they've been killing deer for 25 years with no end in sight.

    And for those who don't know this, Deer do not spread Lyme Disease. They actually perform a service by reducing the black legged tick population when they groom ticks off their bodies--thus preventing them from attaching to other creatures. Fewer deer will mean a higher tick population for all.

  • Jeremy

    Does anyone know what they did with the live fawns that were inside of the mother deer they killed? In the end of March the fawns would be just weeks away from being born and viable. I cannot believe more people aren't disgusted and outraged at our own government employees from the USDA and National Park Service for killing pregnant mother deer. And BTW, just imagine if they put they down their weapons and they picked up tools for those same amount of hours at Habitat For Humanity or a shelter. Now that would be a real donation!!