Press Release: Fishermen Feeding Mainers Has Served More than One Million Meals
Updated: Nov 16
In just three years, MCFA's Fishermen Feeding Mainers program has provided more than one million meals to families in communities throughout Maine. Since October 2020, the program has supplied fresh local seafood direct from Maine fishermen to more than 250 food banks and over 30 school districts, providing countless Mainers with a healthy, high-quality and free source of protein. More than $2.2 million has been infused back into the Maine economy.
"Our original goal was to donate 100,000 meals while also supporting fishermen and Maine’s working waterfront, and we have far surpassed that through the generosity of the community. Mainers always unite in difficult times,” said Mary Hudson, Director of Fisheries Programs at MCFA. “The success of this program would not be possible without the collaboration and dedication of local fishermen and seafood processors who first came together to help put healthy, local food on the tables of Maine families while they were also struggling. We are excited continue this important work.”
The program was launched during the COVID-19 pandemic to help sustain fishermen and families in
Maine. When the food system and restaurants closed, many of Maine’s fishermen, who had already
seen declining value in their fleets, were not able to sell the fish they caught, leaving them unable to
support their families. At the same time, food insecurity in Maine skyrocketed and the MCFA saw the
opportunity to both provide financial relief for Maine fishermen and help feed Maine families.
“We especially want to thank Governor Mills, Senator Collins, Senator King, Representative Pingree, and Representative Golden, as well as the staff at Maine’s Department of Marine Resources, for pulling together to access COVID relief to launch Fishermen Feeding Mainers, and for their steadfast efforts to help us continue to find funding to sustain this program,” said Executive Director Ben Martens.
How it works
MCFA purchases fish directly from Maine fishermen which is then processed locally and donated to food
banks, schools, and other community organizations. To date, it has purchased more than 800,000
pounds of fish, including haddock, cod, monkfish, flounders (such as dabs and grey sole), and pollock.
The fish goes directly to schools and food banks, including those that serve predominantly immigrant
populations, providing them access to a source of high-quality, sustainable protein.
“Participating in Fishermen Feeding Mainers has been an incredibly rewarding experience for me both personally and as a member of the MCFA and Maine commercial fishing industry,” said fisherman Vincent Balzano, owner/operator of F/V Northern Lights out of Portland. “Being able to help feed my neighbors is an important part of why I became a fisherman, and I am proud that I am able to help put healthy food on the tables of families in my community.”
Beyond the one million milestone
Based on the success of the program, MCFA plans to continue it indefinitely and seeks grants,
donations and sponsors to subsidize the cost. Wewill also continue to sell its Maine Coast Monkfish Stew
at more than 50 stores and restaurants in Maine and beyond, with 100% of proceeds supporting the
“Food insecurity continues to be an issue in our state as we move beyond the pandemic with one in four
Maine children at risk for hunger,” said Don Morrison, Operations Director, Wayside Food Programs,
Portland, ME. “Fishermen Feeding Mainers has had a measurable impact on our ability to serve families in need, and we are extremely grateful to continue working with MCFA and local fishermen and seafood processors on this program.”
For more information or to make a donation,