Fishermen Feeding Mainers, a program that fights food insecurity by getting more fish species onto tables, has secured $750,000 in federal funding, ensuring its efforts will continue through the year.

Two fishermen who partner with Fishermen Feeding Mainers. The Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association has purchased over 130 tons of seafood since it launched the program in October 2020. Courtesy of Shannon Kristine

Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association started the program in 2020, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, in part to help fishermen sell their catch as demand plummeted. With markets and restaurants closing, there was nowhere for seafood to go.

Through the program, MCFA purchases fish directly from Maine fishermen, which is then processed locally and donated to the Good Shepherd Food Bank and distributed to food pantries, meal sites, schools and other community organizations.

“We are very proud of it. The fishermen, too, are very excited that their product is going to these places, especially younger generations interested in fish,” said Mary Hudson, director of fisheries programs for MCFA.

With an initial goal of 100,000 meals, the program has now donated over 1.25 million meals.

Fishermen Feeding Mainers teamed up with the Good Shepherd Food Bank to provide schools and food pantries across the state with local seafood.

The program has also seen a raised public awareness of monkfish, a homely bottom-dweller, that is making more appearances on local menus and in supermarkets.

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