• Sitka’s Fish to Schools program on international list of 16 innovative school lunch programs

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FoodTankLogoSitka’s Fish to Schools program is one of 16 school lunch programs from around the world making a difference, according to an international list released this month by the organization Food Tank.

The Fish to Schools program got its start at the 2010 Sitka Health Summit, when community members decided they wanted to see more locally harvested fish in school lunches. The Sitka Conservation Society coordinates the program, in partnership with local schools.

The program started off with a monthly local fish lunch choice at Blatchley Middle School, but the program quickly expanded to include weekly local fish lunch choices at all Sitka schools (including the state-run Mount Edgecumbe High School boarding school and the private The SEER School).

In addition to putting local fish on the school lunch menu, the program also includes education about the fishing industry and its impact on the community (about one in five adults in Sitka work in the fishing industry). Local fishermen and women periodically share lunches with the students, which helps the students connect with their local food system. Local fishermen also donate coho salmon to the program, to help keep it sustainable.

In May 2014, the Sitka Fish to Schools program released a guidebook so other school districts in Alaska could create similar programs. For more information about the Fish to Schools program in Sitka, contact Sophie Nethercut of the Sitka Conservation Society, sophie@sitkawild.org or 747-7509.

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