SE Alaska fishermen donate fish for Oregon food relief

Alaskans Own, a program of Sitka-based small boat fisheries and others, has stepped up to help feed people in the Pacific Northwest hard hit economically by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A recent food distribution event in Cascade Locks, Ore., organized by the Wave Foundation, in coordination with the Columbia Gorge Food Bank, featured seafood from Alaskans Own, provided by the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust and Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association.

“Alaskans Own is deeply grateful for the opportunity to be part of The Wave’s food program,” said Linda Behnken, founder and director of Alaskans Own. “With support from Catch Together and The Wave, our fishermen are able to keep working and provide nutritious, sustainably harvested Alaska seafood to our fellow Americans.”

The fish was distributed both as frozen fillets and as hot meals via Koi Fusion, a food truck that provided free teriyaki lingcod rice bowls to those facing food insecurity.

The day’s events included feeding people in 157 households, deliveries to an additional 600 families in  Tribal Nation Columbia River Basin communities, 140 food boxes distributed by The Wave Foundation truck from the Columbia Gorge Food Bank to Tribal Nation fishing communities and over 400 hot meals served using ling cod and prepared by Koi Fusion’s food truck, and more.

The Wave recognized early on in the novel coronavirus pandemic that whole segments of the Pacific Northwest’s food system were faltering because of sudden closure of event centers, restaurants and other public venues. Food producers, including the seafood industry, lost much of their market quickly due to these closures, while thousands of people lost their jobs. The Wave created its sustainable food program to increase local food recovery, get people back to work, feed vulnerable communities and shift to more resilient community food systems.

The pandemic has taken a devastating toll on our region, leaving many local families struggling to access nutritious, sustainable food, said Justin Zeulner, director of The Wave. “We decided to put our attention and resources toward local Tribal Nation communities, which have been hit especially hard by the virus. Thanks to our generous partners, we were able to bring support directly to them in the form of healthy and sustainable food services and other items they’ve told us they need.”

More information about The Wave is online at thewavenw.org/food-program.