Our recent project, Catch for Hunger Relief, was made possible by the organization Catch Together, which supports fisheries up and down both coasts. Given the huge downturn of markets in 2020, Catch Together wanted to give fisherfolk a boost to get commerce restarted by buying fish and donating it to community organizations.
Since March of this year Slow Money SLO has been working with fishermen/women, fish processors, Rotary Club volunteers, and community feeding programs to make the project a reality.
Left to right: Fisherman Bill Blue and staff from Giovanni's offload black cod; Casey, Gio, & Morro Bay Rotary volunteers coordinate 1st fish delivery; black cod is prepared by chefs at Meals that Connect for senior clients
We weren’t sure how it would go. The premise was right up our alley, local food for local folks, but our organization has been more turf than surf over the years, so we had a learning curve, to be sure.
However, the pay off has been tremendous! Over 10,000 pounds of fillets were donated over the course of the grant! The ocean is such a vast resource, it’s no wonder it was able to make a huge impact on our community.
What's more, the feedback we have received from all of the recipients has been riddled with thanks, gratitude, and sensory satisfaction. We could not be more pleased to have dipped our toes into the fishery world!
Now, that’s not to say that it didn’t take quite an effort to coordinate all the moving pieces. We learned that fishing is a temperamental activity, and very dependent on weather - much like farming. So, it takes time and patience to get a catch before you can process and deliver it.
Jeff worked diligently with all of our partners to coordinate pick-ups/deliveries in time with the catch offload and processing - making sure clients were getting the freshest catch possible. Of course, Giovanni’s and their dedicated staff were indispensable in this area! Casey and her team are rock stars, and kept us up to date on when, what, and how much fish recipients could expect.
Jeff encourages anyone that hasn’t yet been to Giovanni's Fish Market on the Morro Bay Embarcadero to give it a try. It is a great place to enjoy a meal outdoors, or take some great seafood home for your next meal!
Left to right: Giovanni's store front; fresh tuna poke bowl from Giovanni's fast/casual lunch window
From my vantage point behind the scenes, I found a few aspects of this project that have been the coolest.
First, getting fresh, healthy and delicious protein to our community’s food insecure fills me with joy. Fish is such a treat, and a more expensive protein - to offer it to those who can least afford it is, in my opinion, a great move towards an equitable food system.
Second, seeing the widespread distribution of the fish is incredible! On top of direct deliveries to ECHO, CAPSLO’s 40 Prado and Meals that Connect, the SLO Food Bank has sent it to 25 partner agencies across the county! That is SO many individuals and families enjoying local fish!
Third, in our small tight knit community, I’ve had a few conversations with friends that knew about the fresh fish being served at shelters, but didn’t know that Slow Money SLO was coordinating those deliveries. I felt so honored to be able to say that I had a part in the wonderful project.
But, just to be clear, my role was minor - I give Jeff all the props for his hard work in keeping the project running!
Finally, being the nerd that I am, the learning process throughout the project has been rewarding. I like to understand more about the local food scene. I enjoy making the connections between businesses, agencies, and individuals. I get excited about seeing the network of our community that is, deliciously, centered around food!
If you have enjoyed following along with the Catch for Hunger Relief project and think we should do more projects like it, contact us today with your feedback and consider donating to our organization or the others linked above to extend the impact that projects like these can have!
And, if you haven’t seen it already, check out the coverage of the program on KSBY!