Did you have a good year hunting or fishing? You can share your traditional foods with food programs

This is the time of year when a lot of Sitkans have been out deer hunting, or they have a freezer full of fish caught in the summer.

Did you know recent changes to state and federal laws mean you can share your traditional foods with food service programs, hospitals, schools, senior meal programs, food banks, and more. Getting these traditional foods into food service programs is important, as it helps in the healing of sick or isolated elders and it helps connect young people to their local foods. But not all traditional fish and game can be donated due to health risks, so here are a few guidelines to follow from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation Food Safety and Sanitation Program.

First, know what foods you can donate and which you can’t, and in what forms they need to be in for donation. You can donate most wild game meats, finfish, seafood except molluscan shellfish (eg, clams, oysters, cockles, scallops, etc.), marine mammal meat and fat (eg, maktak and seal meat), plants including fiddleheads and sourdock, berries, mushrooms, and eggs (whole, intact and raw).

You are not allowed to donate, due to high health risks, these items — fox, polar bear, bear and walrus meat; seal oil or whale oil, with or without meat; fermented game meat (beaver tail, whale flipper, seal flipper, maktak, and walrus); homemade canned or vacuum-sealed foods; smoked or dried seafood products, unless those products are prepared in a seafood processing facility permitted under 18 AAC 34; fermented seafood products (salmon eggs, fish heads, etc.); and molluscan shellfish.

When donating meats, the meat can be whole, quartered or in roasts. Donated fish should be gutted and gilled, with or without heads. Plants should be whole, fresh or frozen. The food service program accepting the donation needs to make sure the hunter/fisher knows if the animal was diseased, that butchering and other processing was done in a healthy manner, and the food will not cause a health hazard or significant health risk. When donating meat, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game requires a completed transfer of possession form.

There are a variety of additional rules regarding preparation, food storage and processing, and you can read all about them in the links below.

• Donated traditional foods poster

• Donated traditional foods tool kit

• ADF&G Wild Game Transfer Of Possession Form

Sitka Conservation Society to host annual Wild Foods Potluck on Sunday, Nov. 17

The Sitka Conservation Society is hosting its annual Wild Foods Potluck on starting at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 17, at Harrigan Centennial Hall. Please bring a dish featuring ingredients that were fished, foraged, hunted, or cultivated in Southeast Alaska. Doors will open at 5 p.m. and dinner will begin at 5:45 p.m.

This event is open to the entire community. Come celebrate Alaska’s wild food bounty. Prizes will be awarded for generosity, presentation, and tastiness. This event is open to the entire community.

The Sitka Conservation Society could never pull off an event this big without help from volunteers, members, and our community. Interested in volunteering at the potluck or want more information? Contact info@sitkawild.org or call 747-7509. Current members should be able to pick up their 2020 SCS calendar at the dinner.

Check out the November 2019 edition of the Sitka Local Foods Network newsletter

The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the November 2019 edition of its monthly newsletter. Feel free to click this link to get a copy.

This month’s newsletter includes short articles about how to join our board of directors, about our 2020 sponsorship program, and about #GivingTuesday on Dec. 3. Each story has links to our website for more information.

You can sign up for future editions of our newsletter by clicking on the newsletter image in the right column of our website and filling in the information. If you received a copy but didn’t want one, there is a link at the bottom of the newsletter so you can unsubscribe. Our intention is to get the word out about upcoming events and not to spam people. We will protect your privacy by not sharing our email list with others. Don’t forget to like us on Facebooklike our Sitka Farmers Market page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter (@SitkaLocalFoods).

Sitka Local Foods Network hosts its fifth annual #GivingTuesday fundraiser on Dec. 3

Most people have heard about Black FridaySmall-Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, three consumer-oriented days geared toward shopping for the holidays. But have you heard about Giving Tuesday, which takes place on Tuesday, Dec. 3, this year?

Giving Tuesday, also listed at #GivingTuesday (known as #GivingTuesdayAK in Alaska), is a day for people to celebrate generosity and give to worthy nonprofits who support the local community. This year, the Sitka Local Foods Network is launching its fifth Giving Tuesday online fundraiser to help us meet our mission of increasing the amount of locally produced and harvested food in the diets of Southeast Alaskans. In addition to our usual #GivingTuesday fundraiser page on MightyCause.com (formerly Razoo.com), this year we also have one on Facebook that will be eligible for matching dollars from Facebook for donations from Dec. 3. The #GivingTuesday fundraiser pages on MightyCause.com and Facebook will accept early donations, for those who don’t want to wait until Dec. 3 to give, and they will last until Dec. 31 for those people looking for an end-of-year tax deduction.

(This just in, food systems expert and author Mark Winne is donating two copies of his new book, Food Town USA, which features a deep dive into the local food systems of seven communities around the country (Sitka is Chapter 4). These two books will go to the people who donate the most in our Facebook fundraiser. Mark said he’ll even sign them for the winners.)

When you donate to the Sitka Local Foods Network you support us as we host the Sitka Farmers Markets during the summer, grow food at the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden, and teach people about gardening and food preservation through our education program. We also can use funds to help us match the first $20 in produce purchases WIC and SNAP beneficiaries make at the Sitka Farmers Market, which helps get more healthy local produce into the hands of lower-income Sitkans thanks to a grant from the Sitka White Elephant Shop. In 2018, we launched a Sitka food business innovation contest, so your donation might support that effort to encourage food entrepreneurship in Sitka. In recent years we have hosted the annual Running of the Boots costumed fun run fundraiser, the last two years in partnership with Youth Advocates of Sitka.

For businesses and organizations, we have a yearly sponsorship program with four tier levels of support — Grower ($2,500-plus), Harvester ($1,000-$2,499), Planter ($250-$999) and Friend ($50-$249).

In addition to our own projects, we support other local-food-related projects in town, such as Fish To Schools (which puts more locally caught seafood in school meals), our fruit tree project (where we got more community apple and cherry trees in town), the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen, or the Sitka Community Food Assessment (which gave us baseline data on food security issues in Sitka).

It’s easy to donate to our Giving Tuesday fundraiser through our secure donation page hosted by MightyCause.com (formerly Razoo.com, an online site that collects donations for nonprofit organizations), or through our Facebook fundraiser page (the one with the match from Facebook and PayPal). The minimum donation through this site is $5, but we appreciate whatever you can give. A donation of $10 can help us purchase some seeds or work gloves, while a gift of $100 can buy wood, soil and seeds to build a raised garden bed.

The Sitka Local Foods Network participates in the Pick.Click.Give. program, and we thank the 25 donors who contributed $1,300 to us this year through Pick.Click.Give. and look forward to the 2020 donation period. In Pick.Click.Give., Alaskans can donate part of their Permanent Fund Dividend when they file their applications between Jan. 1 and March 31 each year. It’s a great way to share the wealth Alaskans receive through the Permanent Fund with a variety of nonprofit organizations in the state.

For those who prefer to donate the old-fashioned way (or want to avoid online processing fees), you can send a check to the Sitka Local Foods Network, 408 Marine Street, Suite D, Sitka, Alaska, 99835. For those looking for end-of-the-year tax deductions, we are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and our EIN is 26-4629930. Please let us know if you need a receipt. We hold a Bronze level rating with GuideStar.org, and we also are listed with Benevity.org (a site where employee donations to nonprofits sometimes are matched by larger corporations) and NetworkForGood.org (the organization that handles most of the fundraisers started on Facebook).

We thank you for supporting local foods in Sitka, Alaska. Your donation is greatly appreciated. If you need more information about our organization or a receipt for tax purposes, you can email the Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors at sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com.

• 2020 Sitka Local Foods Network sponsorship program details and registration form

Like what we do? Now you or your business can sponsor the Sitka Local Foods Network in 2020

The Sitka Local Foods Network in recent years created a sponsorship program to help promote our mission, and Sitka businesses and individuals are welcome to join for 2020. The goal of the sponsorship program is to make the projects we undertake (Sitka Farmers Market, St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, gardening education, etc.) more sustainable.

“Sitka has a precarious position when it comes to food security, and the Sitka Local Foods Network is trying to improve our food security through our mission to increase the amount of locally harvested and produced foods in the diets of Southeast Alaskans,” Sitka Local Foods Network president Charles Bingham said. “Sponsors of the Sitka Local Foods Network are working with an organization and a farmers market that values local food and businesses, fun, premium quality goods and experiences.”

In recent years, the Sitka Local Foods Network has hosted seven Sitka Farmers Markets during the summer (from July to September). We haven’t set our 2020 dates yet, but we anticipate we will have seven markets again this summer. In addition, we grow most of the local produce sold at the markets at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden and a couple of other locations in town. We also offer a variety of garden education classes in the spring. One way we ensure fresh, local produce is available to lower-income Sitkans is through our matching program for WIC and SNAP beneficiaries (the first $20 spent on produce at the market), courtesy of a grant from the Sitka White Elephant Shop.

In 2018 we launched a new food business innovation contest to inspire food entrepreneurs in Sitka, and continued the program in 2019. We also host the annual Running of the Boots costumed fun run fundraiser, the past two years in partnership with Youth Advocates of Sitka. In addition, we support other local food projects in Sitka, such as the Fish to Schools lunch program and the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen.

There are four levels of sponsorship available, and each has its own set of perks.

  • Grower ($2,500-plus) — We’ll hang your banner at ANB Hall during the Sitka Farmers Markets, include your logo and company name prominently in our merchandise and advertisements, and thank you on our social media and web pages. If appropriate for the Sitka Farmers Market, you may set up a free promotional booth.
  • Harvester ($1,000-$2,499) — We’ll hang your banner at ANB Hall during the Sitka Farmers Markets and include your logo and company name in our merchandise and advertisements.
  • Planter ($250-$999) — Your banner will hang at ANB Hall during the Sitka Farmers Markets.
  • Friend ($50-$249) — You are listed on our online sponsor page.

We have limited space for banners at the Sitka Farmers Markets, so please contact us before May 1 to guarantee your spot. To learn more about the sponsorship program, click the link below for details and a registration form. For more information, contact Charles Bingham at (907) 623-7660 or by email at charleswbingham3@gmail.com, or email us at sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com.

• 2020 Sitka Local Foods Network sponsorship program details and registration form

Thank you to everybody who donated to the Sitka Local Foods Network through Pick.Click.Give.

The Sitka Local Foods Network recently received its check for 2019 Pick.Click.Give. donations from when Alaskans filed their Permanent Fund Dividend applications.

We received $1,300 from 25 donors (after service fees, the check was for $1,209). We want to thank everybody who donated this year. Your contributions will help us in our mission to increase the amount of locally harvested and produced food in the diets of Southeast Alaskans.

When you choose to donate part of your PFD to the Sitka Local Foods Network, you support the Sitka Farmers Market, St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, education programs about growing and preserving food, the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen, Sitka Community Gardens, matching dollars at the Sitka Farmers Market for SNAP/WIC beneficiaries, the sustainable use of traditional foods, the Sitka Community Food Assessment, the Sitka Food Summit, and a variety of other projects designed to increase access to healthy local foods in Sitka. This year we hosted the second annual Sitka Food Business Innovation Contest to try and encourage more food entrepreneurs in Sitka.

We will be participating in the 2020 Pick.Click.Give. program, so you can donate when you file for your 2020 PFD. The 2020 PFD application period opens on Jan. 1, and runs through March 31. Only those Alaskans who file for their PFDs using the electronic application will be able to contribute to more than 600 nonprofit organizations from Alaska through Pick.Click.Give. This is a good way to support your local community.

Again, we thank you for your support. If you missed donating through Pick.Click.Give. or want to send in a donation so you can use it as a 2019 income tax deduction, you can mail a check to us at Sitka Local Foods Network, 408-D Marine Street, Sitka, Alaska 99835. For more information about our organization, contact SLFN board president Charles Bingham at (907) 623-7660 or sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com.

Sitka’s Alaska Way of Life 4-H Club to host Fall Foraging Fun event on Nov. 1

The Alaska Way of Life 4-H Club in Sitka will host a Hudson Bay tea collecting event from 1-4 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 1. This event is for kids in grades K-5 and takes place at the Southeast Alaska Career Center, 205 Baranof Street, between Pacific High School and Baranof Elementary School.

This event is free, but there is limited space and pre-registration is required. This event is open to students registered in 4-H (contact Sitka Conservation Society, 747-7509, or the UAF Cooperative Extension Service Sitka office at UAS Sitka Campus, 747-9440, to learn how to register for 4-H), the Sitka Native Education Program or the Sitka Tribe of Alaska.

For more information, contact Emily Pound at Sitka Conservation Society at 747-7509 or emily@sitkawild.org.