NFI Future Leaders seek donations for SeaShare

The National Fisheries Institute’s Future Leaders program is seeking donations for SeaShare, a non-profit organized to enable the U.S. seafood industry to donate food and resources to hunger-relief efforts nationwide.

The Future Leaders program, founded and run by the seafood industry’s trade group, is designed to craft and promote young leaders in the industry through a year-long training program.

SeaShare Director of Development Kate Tomkins said the Future Leaders have conducted a SeaShare giving campaign since 2011. 

“Like Future Leaders, SeaShare really represents the seafood industry, is aligned with seafood industry, and we both see ourselves as extensions of the industry giving back for hunger-relief,” Tomkins said.

Founded in 1994 and based in Bainbridge Island, Washington, U.S.A., near Seattle, SeaShare annually organizes the donation of more than two million pounds of seafood to food banks in as many as 30 states across the United States. Tomkins said in addition to seafood, the organization also accepts in-kind donations of cold storage and transportation, and has nearly 200 partners throughout the supply chain helping to get seafood to food banks.

“We want to continue to bring more seafood to more people throughout the country,” Tomkins said. "There are 42 million Americans who struggle with hunger. That number has not significantly changed since the end of the last financial crisis. People are still really struggling to meet their own basic needs, and we believe everyone should have access to highest-quality protein that’s out there.”

Laurel Raffan, the director of national foodservice accounts for Open Blue Cobia and the president of the Future Leaders Class of 2018, said the effort for this year’s campaign is centered around increasing donations from the aquaculture sector.

“SeaShare gets great support from companies, with a lot of recurring donations from companies that donate every year,” Raffan told SeafoodSource. “With aquaculture on the rise, we’d like to grow donations from the aquaculture and create a base of support for SeaShare from a segment of the industry that’s poised for growth.”

Raffan said a secondary goal of the campaign is to raise awareness of SeaShare and its mission, starting with the 40 individuals from 35 companies involved in the seafood industry taking part in the current Future Leaders program. (Editor’s note: this reporter is a member of this year’s Future Leaders class.)

“We are aware not everyone can donate at drop of a hat. Our approach is to start at our own companies, then build out and talk to two more, with the hope that if any given company can’t donate this year, they might be able to next year or eventually down the line," Raffan said.

So far, this year’s Future Leaders campaign has raised USD 6,200 (EUR 5,400) from individuals and four industry donors: Open Blue, the Global Aquaculture Alliance, Seafood Exchange, and Bailey Seafood.

While SeaShare and Future Leaders have focused their efforts on the month of October – National Seafood Month in the United States – the campaign will run through the end of the year, Raffan said.

“Whatever you can donate, SeaShare can handle just about anything if it’s seafood-related. They can pick it up, they can handle all the logistics,” she said. “It’s a really easy way for the seafood industry to make a real difference.”

Photo courtesy of SeaShare


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