Six years ago, the only fish being served in the schools of one of the richest fishing regions in the nation were breaded, battered farmed fish from distant shores.
A conversation between a school district chef and a supervisor at Peter Pan Seafoods in Dillingham changed all that. Now, a program encouraging fishermen to donate fish to the school lunch program is an annual event, and other areas of the state are following suit.
The Fish for Kids program is run and supported by Peter Pan Seafoods in Dillingham, and allows fishermen to allocate a certain number of pounds of their deliveries to the processor toward school lunches. Organizers keep a running tally of the number of pounds of fish each fisherman dedicates to the program, with a goal of reaching 12,000 round pounds each year. Donations range from 50 to 1,000 pounds with as many as 50 fishermen contributing to the program. In recent years, Peter Pan has donated thousands of pounds of fish when the amount donated by fishermen didn't reach the goal. In addition, the company donates the cost of processing the fish.
In the end, schools in the Dillingham area, as well as Southwest Region schools in villages in the Bristol Bay region have received some 6,000 pounds ...