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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.