Seafood Organizations are Helping Communities Meet Food Needs

WASHINGTON — With the economic pressures of the past two years and rising prices across all goods, consumers are especially being hit hard when it comes to what they can afford to eat. Seafood Nutrition Partnership is highlighting some of its partners in the Seafood4Health Action Coalition and their programs that are giving back to communities and helping more Americans enjoy nutritious seafood.

If you struggle with food insecurity or would like tips on how to buy seafood on a budget, visit Seafood Nutrition Partnership’s website for easy tips while you’re in the grocery store and budget friendly recipes.

According to Feeding America, about 1 in 8 Americans, or around 42 million people, experienced food insecurity in 2021. Seafood adds to the solution because it’s a great protein option for all ages, providing nutrients and omega-3s the body needs to support brain and heart function as well as immune health. Coronavirus had a significant impact on the economy, health, and the accessibility of food all over the world, which is why programs such as SeaShare, Seafood for Heroes, and Fisherman Feeding Mainers are trying to be part of the solution. Not only are these programs helping provide jobs for fishermen and farmers, but they’re also helping those wondering where their next meal is coming from.

SeaShare is a nonprofit organization with a mission to engage the seafood industry in a collective effort to improve nutrition for the people served by food banks and feeding centers. The organization partners with nearly 200 groups along the seafood supply chain to serve Americans struggling with hunger. Since the pandemic began in 2020, SeaShare has distributed 14 million seafood servings.

“Many societal problems cannot be addressed until struggling families have access to nutritious food, and SeaShare is working hard to ensure the clients of food banks nationwide can eat well through the donation of seafood — the best, most sustainable animal protein available,” said SeaShare Development Director Fiona Robinson.

The Napa Seafood Foundation (NSF) created the Seafood for Heroes program at the start of the pandemic. NSF works closely with communities in particular need, such as high COVID-19 caseloads or proximity to natural disasters, to feed thousands of healthcare workers and first responders. Because seafood has both a low carbon footprint and contains more nutritional benefits compared to other proteins, NSF said it is the perfect food to help first responders and healthcare workers stay healthy and full while working long hours. The first donations went out in New York and the program has expanded globally to partner with other organizations such as World Central Kitchen in Ukraine. The Seafood for Heroes program has served 18,500 meals in the U.S. and has raised over $17,500 for meals in Ukraine.

Struggling fishermen and hungry Mainers have found a way to help each other through the pandemic. Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association launched the Fishermen Feeding Mainers program to provide direct financial relief to fishermen by helping them supply food banks and families in need with healthy Maine seafood meals.

“To know that the fish I’m catching are being distributed locally to Maine families in need is amazing,” said Randy Cushman, a fourth-generation fisherman. “Not only do I get the satisfaction of knowing my fish is going to a good cause, but this program has helped me continue to fish and support my family in these tough times.”