Fishermen Feeding Mainers
Meals for hungry Mainers and a lifeline for Maine's fishermen
The video above was filmed in 2020. Although we've now surpassed 1 million meals, 10 times our original goal of donating 100,000 meals, our fishermen's passion for feeding our community remains strong.
The groundfish fleet in Maine (those who fish for species like cod, haddock, and flounder) has seen declining value for the past five years. When COVID-19 struck, and the food system and restaurants closed, those struggles were amplified in an astounding way. From the five-year average, the value of landed groundfish in Maine is down an astonishing 73%. Most shockingly, a large driver for the decline is the high percentage of fish not even being sold. This means that fishermen were landing fish and it is going unsold even at low prices. This caused many fishermen to be forced to stay tied to the dock despite needing to make money to support their families.
Simultaneously, we have seen a significant rise in food insecurity in Maine with the onset of COVID with close to 15% of our population needing better access to food.
In response, MCFA launched the Fishermen Feeding Mainers Program to provide direct financial relief to fishermen by helping them supply food banks and families in need with healthy Maine seafood meals. Read the great article BDN wrote back in 2020! LINK
Between October 2020 and November 2023, MCFA purchased over 800,000 pounds of fish for the program and paid local processors to cut and freeze the fish, infusing more than $2.2 million back into the Maine economy. Over a million seafood meals have been donated across a network of more than 250 food banks and over 30 school districts.
Uncertain seafood markets, food insecurity, and lack of access to local seafood are endemic challenges and MCFA is now working to transition Fishermen Feeding Mainers from a pandemic response to a sustainable program to support fishermen, the working waterfront, the blue economy, and supply fresh, healthy seafood to those in need.
"To know that the fish I'm catching are being distributed locally to Maine families in need is amazing. Not only do I get the satisfaction of knowing my fish is going to a good cause, but this program has helped me continue to fish and support my family in these tough times."