SeaShare is a nonprofit organization that works within the seafood industry to maximize donations of fish to food banks and feeding centers across the country. In this blog, SeaShare shares how it has partnered with Alaska organizations so that Alaska's seafood resources can benefit Alaskans.
SeaShare began in 1994 with a goal of reducing waste in the Bering Sea Pollock fishery. The organization worked with fishermen and fisheries management to change federal regulations to allow fish that were caught unintentionally (bycatch) to be retained for donation to hunger-relief efforts, rather than thrown overboard. In December 2010, Rasmuson Foundation made its first grant to SeaShare: a $25,000 matching grant to develop a distribution system in Alaska. SeaShare Executive Director Jim Harmon provided this update about the project.
“Last year, Rasmuson Foundation invested in a SeaShare project to help feed Alaskans. SeaShare is a nonprofit organization that works within the seafood industry to maximize donations of fish to food banks and feeding centers across the country. In Alaska that means combining raw materials, processing, packaging, freight, cold storage, and dollars to generate large volumes that no single donor could justify or sustain.
“Rasmuson Foundation Chairman Ed Rasmuson and Senior Program Associate Aleesha Towns-Bain met with me to brainstorm opportunities and review the challenges of donating seafood within Alaska. Until now, the majority of fish donated in Alaska were shipped to Seattle for processing, packing, and distribution in the Lower 48. But seafood has important dietary and cultural significance to Alaska Natives, and SeaShare made a proposal to develop donations in Alaska that stay in Alaska. That meeting is already bearing fruit.
“In March, SeaShare worked with Coastal Villages Resource Fund (CVRF), a Community Development Quota (CDQ) group, to send 400 pounds of salmon from their fishing boat to Anchorage. CVRF board members then hosted a salmon lunch at Bean’s Café, where over 60% of the clients are Alaska Natives. It was a watershed moment for SeaShare’s efforts to connect Alaska seafood donors with those who can benefit from a nutritious meal.
“After that event, SeaShare was invited to meet with all six of the CDQ groups. With a healthy respect for the resource, their goal is maximum utilization for their people. They wanted to find out how we could ramp up the program. These six companies are now working together with SeaShare to retain and distribute more salmon here in Alaska. The annual amount could exceed 140,000 pounds. That’s over 500,000 seafood servings a year!
“We are now working to identify and recruit others to pull on the same oar with us. Together, we are using Alaska resources to improve lives right here in Alaska.
You can find out more about SeaShare and other donation partnerships at our website.”