With the Help of Community Partners, New Effort Will Provide Free Fresh and Local Seafood to Food Insecure Neighbors
Tackling an issue like food insecurity can be daunting, but a dedicated group of local organizations have joined forces on a new endeavor to address this through the lens of local seafood. Alongside Cherry Point Seafood, the Culinary Institute of Charleston at Trident Technical College, Lowcountry Food Bank and One80 Place, the South Carolina Aquarium is piloting a new effort beginning this month: Good Catch Seafood Connection.
Despite a close proximity to water and the seafood within it, many South Carolinians experience food insecurity. According to a study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, South Carolina ranks as the eighth highest food insecure state in the nation, with 12.6% of the state’s residents experiencing food insecurity. In 2021, the Lowcountry Food Bank, based in Charleston, South Carolina, reported that the food insecurity rate remained high at 11% for the ten coastal counties that they serve. When it comes to local, fresh and sustainable seafood, concerns about poor water quality, pricing, habitat loss and more only exacerbate the challenge.
All of this is what motivated the Aquarium to create a solution that would offer fellow Lowcountry neighbors greater access to the ocean’s bounty and alleviate growing challenges of choosing local and sustainable seafood. This effort directly aligns with the goals of their sustainable seafood program, Good Catch. As it begins its pilot season, Seafood Connection will collaborate with partners that are dedicated to harvesting local and sustainable seafood, providing meals to food insecure neighbors and training the next generation of the culinary workforce.
“One aim of Good Catch is to break down barriers of access to local and sustainable seafood, but we can’t do it alone. This collaboration provides a great solution. We are so thankful to have a cohort of community experts to help provide a lean and healthy, locally and sustainably sourced protein to our food insecure neighbors,” said Dr. Sara McDonald, director of conservation at the South Carolina Aquarium. “A community driven approach is what will make this program successful.”
Seafood Connection begins with the Aquarium purchasing 160 combined pounds of shrimp and swordfish each month from Cherry Point Seafood. Cherry Point Seafood will take the swordfish to the Culinary Institute of Charleston at Trident Technical College to be prepped and packaged. After filleting and packaging the swordfish, the Culinary Institute will then deliver it to the Lowcountry Food Bank where they will incorporate it into meals that will be distributed to food insecure neighbors throughout coastal South Carolina. Simultaneously, Cherry Point Seafood will send shrimp to One80 Place, where residents enrolled in their culinary training program will prepare and serve the shrimp in their community kitchen. This collaborative effort reflects a practical and all-encompassing approach to combating food insecurity, covering responsible sourcing, culinary education and community support.
“This amazing support from the Aquarium enables our Zucker Family Production Kitchen to prepare thousands of nutritious meals for Lowcountry seniors who face food insecurity,” said Nick Osborne, CEO of Lowcountry Foodbank.
With the efforts of this interconnected group of organizations, South Carolina Aquarium Good Catch Seafood Connection is projected to provide 5,000 meals of fresh and local seafood each year to food insecure neighbors, uplift local fishermen through financial support of their business, lower the communal carbon footprint by keeping local seafood local and provide hands-on job skills and opportunities to students at Trident Technical College and culinary trainees at One80 Place.
Collaboration is key to driving change, and the Aquarium is enthusiastic about the impact it will have at all levels of the seafood supply chain, from catching and preparing the seafood to serving it to those who need it most. Seafood Connection aligns with the Aquarium’s core mission of serving the community and making a real, tangible difference in the process.