Eighteen truckloads of over half a million pounds of donate,d breaded pollock portions went to 16 food banks in 12 states two weeks ago, and more seafood is on its way.
“Our donors are so generous and really want to help right now. Everybody’s calling asking how can we help. It’s rewarding to be in this business right now.”
Jim Harmon is director of SeaShare, a nonprofit that works with fishermen, processors, logistics and distribution partners to provide top quality seafood to Feeding America, a network of 200 large food banks in every state that services up to 500 smaller agencies.
“Then we did a press release and it’s actually grown to the point that another company, Gorton’s Seafood, has come up with 120,000 pounds at various cold storages around the country.”
SeaShare dates back to the early 1990s when Bering Sea industry members banded together to turn mandatory discards of groundfish, or bycatch, into frozen portions for food banks.
“We’ve been doing it for 25 years and grown to the point where bycatch represents only about 10% of our total donations.”
Donations have broadened to include a wide variety of species, such as salmon, shrimp, rockfish, halibut, catfish, and tilapia. Most are frozen, Harmon says, although canned and other shelf stable items also are included.
SeaShare also distributes seafood in Alaska where industry donations put freezers in hub centers like Bethel, Dillingham and Juneau. The fish is then sent to over 30 remote communities. Shipments have recently been sent to Kodiak and Dillingham and one will soon be on its way to Juneau.
Harmon says during the coronavirus crisis, the less fortunate are especially at risk and SeaShare is getting requests from all over the world.
Anyone with products available in any quantity as a donation or at a low cost is encouraged to contact SeaShare.
“We’re asking everyone we know to pull on the oar with us. And getting the message out about 18 truckloads that we did a couple weeks ago and the 120,000 pounds from Gorton’s, I’m hoping that will resonate with others and get people thinking about how they can get on board.”
Financial support also is needed. A donation of just one dollar provides eight servings of seafood.