Fish Radio
Donations of fish, game to meal programs pushed by AK lawmakers
April 10, 2015

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Donating fish and game to Alaska meal programs gets a push by lawmakers. More after this —

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Caribou instead of corn dogs and seal instead of spaghetti could be feeding Alaskans if traction continues on a new bill before the Alaska legislature.

HB 179 allows schools, senior centers, hospitals, child care and other Alaska facilities to accept and serve donated subsistence and sport caught fish, game, plants and eggs in their meal programs. Currently, this is illegal if a program accepting donations charges for the meal at any point before it is consumed.

“Out in the bush, a lot of people in Western or Northern Alaska will donate Caribou to the senior center, so that elders can eat caribou stew. And that happens very frequently. And that’s technically not simpatico with the rule of the law. So this bill basically brings what happens in Alaskan communities – which is people coming together and donating fish and game for children or for elders – and makes that compatible with what Alaska’s laws say.”

Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins of Sitka introduced HB 179. In its sponsorship he said that it “will nourish Alaska’s children and elders, both physically and spiritually. It will limit the amount of expensive and unhealthy processed food shipped to communities that have incredible food available just a short boat or snow machine ride away.”

The bill affirms the Dept. of Environmental Conservation’s authority to oversee the safety of the donated foods. 

Kreiss-Tomkins  credited momentum for the bill by a statewide movement within schools to offer healthier, local foods, such as Sitka’s Fish to Schools program, community shared agriculture in the Mat-Su Valley and Dillingham’s salmon donation programs.

The bill has already garnered seven co-sponsors across party aisles from Kodiak, Juneau, Anchorage, Ketchikan, Nome and North Pole. Kreiss-Tomkins says such early, widespread support indicates a good chance of passage this session.

“We’ve sponsored a number of different pieces of legislation but this is one we’d like to see pass in the law quickly. And we’re on that path right now. So I think that’s why it’s got a little more attention. It’s got hearings coming up, it’s got a huge list of co-sponsors. And it’s a kumbaya Alaska issue. Everyone gets it.”

Find links to the Alaska legislature and more at www.alaskafishradio.com.

Thanks to the assist from KCAW/Sitka.

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods, serving Alaska’s fishing communities since 1910. On the web at www.oceanbeauty.com – In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.

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