Time of need arrives for SeaShare
Across the United States, more and more people are relying on food banks. The number of people who access food banks has increased 26 percent in the past five years, according to a study from Feeding America.
For the hunger-relief community, the arrival of the holiday season is when food banks receive a lot of their income and donations. However, with the recession still having an impact, monetary contributions have dipped.
And the seafood industry is no exception.
“Our seafood donors and industry remain very loyal, but corporations and foundations have reduced funding so dollars are hard for us right now. There’s always a portion we have to pay for donations — storage, trucking, packing. All donations include some sort of cost that we have to fund-raise for,” said Jim Harmon, executive director of SeaShare, a Bainbridge Island, Wash., nonprofit hunger-relief organization that links seafood companies to food banks nationwide.
“Right now more seafood donations have increased in volume but that’s a challenge because we have to raise funds to support that cause.”
Food banks particularly struggle at the end of the year because they don’t get enough proteins. Harmon says SeaShare’s message of bringing seafood to a whole segment of the population who normally wouldn’t get it resonates well with people, especially those interested in improving their nutrition and fighting obesity.
However, protein isn’t the only donation needed to get seafood to hungry Americans. Without cold storage space, packaging and distribution the protein donated wouldn’t make it to the food banks.
“We get lots of calls from people who say we have this seafood, can you repack it or process it into finished product so we can give it to you? This is hard because we lean on a lot of people to do stuff for us. They do what they can but they’re limited,” said Harmon.
“SeaShare doesn’t have a very good public brand; we feed the food banks that feed people. We’re once removed from the good photo op of a hungry kid getting a meal but our story really does resonate within the seafood industry,” said Harmon. “One company will read about another and say I can do the same thing or I don’t want to be left out. It can result in partnerships between four or five companies so no one company, processor or fishermen, etc. bears the full load. Companies motivate each other, which lets some people donate who wouldn’t have an opportunity otherwise.”
You can do your part by reaching out to SeaShare and donating product, services or money.