The Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance and Fish for America USA are pleased to announce a new, collaborative effort to provide fresh, local seafood to food banks in central and north Florida as the organizations work to meet the continued, record need due to the economic hardship created by COVID-19.
Over the next several months, an estimated 13,000 lbs. of red snapper caught by local Florida fishermen will be processed by Lombardi’s Seafood and donated to Second Harvest of the Big Bend and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida which combined, distribute food and other resources to nearly 700 food pantries in 17 Florida counties.
“With demand for seafood still way down, we’re all facing another really difficult year ahead,” said Jim Zubrick, president of Fish for America USA. “But this program will not only support fishermen in Steinhatchee, it also allows them to help feed our neighbors with healthy, local, sustainably caught seafood in a time of crisis.”
Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida has been providing free food assistance to the region for decades. This year, the organization continues to offer mobile food distribution sites and other programs to support thousands of families including those facing hardships due to the pandemic.
“Hunger was a critical issue before the pandemic and it is even more so now,” said Dave Krepcho, president and CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. “These types of partnerships that bring different industries and people together are the types of programs that help will get us through this.”
The donation is possible due to a collaboration with Catch Together, a non-profit that works to strengthen fishing communities and support sustainable fishers across the country. Since the COVID crisis began, Catch Together has provided more than $5 million in grants to purchase fish from fishermen on every coast and send it to nearby food banks.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, our main goal was to help these small-scale fishing operations which are so important to so many communities stay in business,” said Paul Parker, founder of Catch Together. “But we quickly saw the growing need for healthy, nutritious food and knew we and our commercial fishing partners were equipped to help.”
By donating food or grocery products, food industry partners help reduce food waste and feed our neighbors facing hunger.