Fish cakes made with donations from the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association are prepared at Sebago Elementary School. | Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association.

Students and families across the state will learn about local fish species they might not be familiar with through a Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association program.

The effort is a part of the Fishermen Feeding Mainers initiative, where MCFA buys seafood directly from fishermen and donates it to area schools and food banks.

Mary Hudson, MCFA program manager, said in the past year the organization has realized that some people in communities where they donate fish, especially among migrant populations, are not aware of how to cook some fish species that they are receiving.

“Minority population includes refugees who speak different languages and don’t necessarily speak English or know how to cook or handle the fish that we are providing them because it’s unfamiliar species to them,” Hudson said. “We plan to teach and help them learn about these species.”

The MCFA is partnering with the Maine Sea Grant and the Department of Education to develop these educational tools in the form of recipe cards for individual recipients and playing cards for schools.

Hake, monkfish and pollock are among the common species that are donated. The recipe cards with nutritional information about these three fish species will be available to people through food banks.

While the cards will be printed in English and translated into four different languages – Portuguese, Spanish, Fresh, and Arabic, the translated versions will be available only online, Hudson said.

Resources also will be shared with schools.

“We plan to design something on the lines of baseball cards for kids but with a blurb of fishermen on it instead,” Hudson said. “The cards will also have a blurb of different fish species. We are trying to add an educational component to them.”

Hudson added that it is important to connect students with local communities, especially with the coastal fishing communities, to be aware of different fish species that the local fishermen catch.

“Not just children but even adults are not aware of the common species caught in the Gulf of Maine. I think the more we can get people at a young age to eat seafood, and if that becomes a more prevalent part of their diet, we are creating a future market for the fishermen,” said Hudson.

MCFA started the Fishermen Feeding Mainers program in September 2020 year during the pandemic when fishermen were having a hard time finding markets for their catch.

The program currently donates to more than 60 organizations from Kennebunkport to Millinocket. So far, the organization has provided over 230,000 meals with the help of several grants and funding from the governor’s office.

This story was updated at 9 a.m. Sept. 16, 2021, to correct the number of meals served by Fishermen Feeding Mainers.


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