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MCFA BLOG
  • Writer's pictureMCFA Staff

Fishermen Feeding Mainers Secures $750K




Fishermen Feeding Mainers, a program of the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, will be

receiving $750,000 in federal funding thanks to an appropriations request submitted by Senator

Collins and Senator King. The successful request, which was moved through the appropriations

committee of which Senator Collins serves upon, will provide funding for the program through

Good Shepherd Food Bank of Maine.


The Fishermen Feeding Mainers program began in October 2020 in response to the collapse of

local markets and rising food insecurity in Maine. Initially funded by an anonymous foundation,

the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association partnered with Good Shepherd Food Bank to distribute

donated fish to food pantries, meal sites, and additional hunger-relief organizations located

throughout the state. With an original goal of serving 100,000 meals, the program's quick success

was buoyed by the Department of Marine Resources and Governor Mill’s office as part of the

CARES Act, and hundreds of individuals, businesses, and foundations which have contributed to

help deliver over 1.25 million meals to date. The funding secured by Senator Collins and Senator

King will ensure this program can continue over the next year.


We are incredibly grateful for the support from Senators King and Senator Collins who have

continued to be amazing champions of the working waterfront, Maine fishermen, and this

program. Feeding Maine communities local seafood, and especially getting local seafood into

schools is a huge win for our state. We are thrilled to be able to continue this good work,” said

Executive Director Ben Martens.


Through the program, MCFA purchases fish directly from Maine fishermen which is then

processed locally and donated to the Food Bank and distributed to food pantries, meal sites,

schools, and other community organizations.


With the support of partners like the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association and the advocacy of

Senators Collins and King, Good Shepherd Food Bank, as Maine’s largest hunger relief

organization, is proud to expand our offerings to the more than 600 partners located across the

state. The addition of locally caught fish enriches nutritional diversity, furthering our mission to

provide increased access and nutritious options to our neighbors facing food insecurity,” stated

Heather Paquette, president of Good Shepherd Food Bank of Maine.


To date, the Food Bank has purchased more than 900,000 pounds of fish, including haddock,

cod, monkfish, flounders (such as dabs and grey sole), and pollock. The fish is distributed

through the Food Bank to the state’s hunger-relief organizations, providing them access to a

source of high-quality, sustainable, and delicious 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 can help put healthy food on the tables of families in my community.”


This spring, the Fishermen Feeding Mainers program celebrated a milestone of having provided

over 1.25 million meals to more than 250 food pantries and 30 school districts from Kittery to Fort

Kent. In addition to the donations to schools and through Good Shepherd Food Bank, MCFA has

also worked with multiple community groups and Maine Health Pantries to provide fish to

multicultural and new Mainer families.


The program has infused more than $2.2 million back into the Maine economy and donated more

than $9.75 million worth of local seafood throughout the state.


The Fishermen Feeding Mainers program supports fishermen by helping them supply food

banks with locally caught seafood,” said Senator Collins. “This funding will assist the Maine

Coast Fishermen’s Association and their partners in their efforts to support Maine’s fishermen,

working waterfronts, and blue economy while supplying fresh, healthy seafood to those in need.”


“People across Maine deserve access to basic food and nutrition, no matter what town or

socioeconomic background they come from,” said Senator King. “With a bounty just off our

shores, I am proud to support Good Shepherd Food Bank and the Maine Coast Fishermen’s

Association’s Fishermen Feeding Mainers project that is bringing fresh-caught Maine seafood

to those who need it most. I always say that Maine is one big, small town that supports one

another, and this project is proof that we don’t leave anyone behind. Thanks to my colleagues

and the good people at this incredible organization for working diligently to support our

community.”


The goal for this program is that it can grow to include more species and more recipients to both

support the fishermen and help address food insecurity. It also offers an opportunity for Mainers

to learn more about the variety of local seafood available to them and how to prepare it in

delicious ways.


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.”

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