• Sitka Health Summit project to get more fish in school lunches to start pilot study

From left, Lexi Fish, Linda Wilson and Kerry MacLane serve up fish tacos at Pacific High recently. At right are Sitka School Board President Lon Garrison and Superintendent Steve Bradshaw. The Sitka School District is considering adding locally caught fish to the school lunch program. (Daily Sitka Sentinel photo by James Poulson)

From left, Lexi Fish, Linda Wilson and Kerry MacLane serve up fish tacos at Pacific High recently. At right are Sitka School Board President Lon Garrison and Superintendent Steve Bradshaw. The Sitka School District is considering adding locally caught fish to the school lunch program. (Daily Sitka Sentinel photo by James Poulson)

Members of the Sitka Health Summit group trying to get more locally caught wild fish served in school lunches met with Sitka school officials Friday, Nov. 19, over a meal of fish tacos and agreed to a pilot study to see how many students will choose fish for lunch.

The project is one of four community health priorities/goals to come out of the 2010 Sitka Health Summit this October. Community members want to have more locally caught wild fish served in school lunches because the food is healthier than the usual school-lunch fare, especially with the Omega 3 fatty acids found in most finfish. Also, by using local fish will help the local commercial fishing industry and there is less of an environmental impact because there are fewer transportation miles used to get the food to Sitka.

On Friday, Nov. 19, members of the project task force — called FISH!, or Fish In Schools, Hooray! — met with Sitka School District Superintendent Steve Bradshaw and other school officials, including NANA Management Services, which has the food service contract for the school district. Representatives from several of Sitka’s fish processors and commercial fishing organizations also attended the fish taco lunch at the Southeast Alaska Career Center (located behind Pacific High School). One of the key issues is trying to find reasonably priced fish that doesn’t exceed the school district’s budget for protein.

During the meeting, the school district and FISH! decided to run a pilot project at Blatchley Middle School starting in January and running through the end of the school year. During the test program, fresh fish (starting with Pacific cod) will be served once a month as one of the four options available to students. If enough of the students select the fish, then the project will spread to all schools next year. The task force will promote the fish through the school newspaper, school newsletter and other local media. The task force will sponsor the cost difference during the first month of the project, with other groups picking up the cost difference in following months.

In addition to the Sitka School District, the task force also is working with Pacific High School (which creates its own menus separate from the district), Mt. Edgecumbe High School (which is run by the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development) and the Sitka Pioneer Home to get more locally caught wild fish into their menus.

(EDITOR’s NOTE: The Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel included a story about the project. The story is posted below as a PDF file, since the Sentinel’s site requires a password.)

• Daily Sitka Sentinel article from Nov. 24, 2010 — Schools Hope to Hook Students on Fish

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• Planting fruit trees in Sitka and getting more seafood into local school meals are 2010 Sitka Health Summit projects

Cherry blossoms at Blatchley Community Garden

Cherry blossoms at Blatchley Community Garden

When Sitka residents met for the community planning day during the Sitka Health Summit earlier this month, two of the four health priority projects they chose to work on this year centered around local food issues.

One of the projects is to plant 200 fruit trees — apples, crabapples or cherry trees — in Sitka by the next Sitka Health Summit on Sept. 30-Oct. 1, 2011. The other food-related project is to get more locally caught wild fish into school lunch menus.

Both groups already are making progress toward their goals, and public meetings have been organized so Sitka residents can participate.

The fruit tree planting group meets from 7-8:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 25, at The Loft (408 Oja Way, Suite A, located across the residential street and a couple of buildings over from the Sitka Police Department’s side entry door on Oja Way). Apple cider and an apple dish will be offered.

All Sitka residents are welcome, especially those who have grown fruit trees in Sitka or Southeast Alaska and can share their experiences. Group member Lisa Sadleir-Hart created a brief survey about fruit trees in Sitka, and you can answer it by clicking this link, http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/QPWMJ3N. Please complete the survey, even if you can’t attend the meeting. The group temporarily is being facilitated by Kari Lundgren, who can be reached at 738-2089 for more information.

Black cod (aka sablefish) on the grill from the Alaska Longline Fisherman's Association booth at the Sitka Farmers Market

Black cod (aka sablefish) on the grill from the Alaska Longline Fisherman's Association booth at the Sitka Farmers Market

The wild fish for school lunches group has been meeting with officials with the Sitka School District and Mt. Edgecumbe High School, local fish vendors, catchers and processors, to see what they can do to get more locally caught wild fish — salmon, halibut, cod, sablefish, rockfish, etc. — served in Sitka schools.

The wild fish group’s first meeting will be for a fish lunch at noon on Friday, Nov. 19, at Pacific High School. Some people will show up at 11 a.m. to help cook the fish, which will be served at noon, and the actual meeting will be from 12:30-1:30 p.m. at the Southeast Alaska Career Center (located right behind Pacific High School). To learn more about the group, contact Kerry MacLane at 752-0654 or maclanekerry@yahoo.com.

• Kerry MacLane provides update on Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center project

An artist's concept of one version of a proposed Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center

An artist's concept of one version of a proposed Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center

About a dozen people joined Sitka Local Foods Network president Kerry MacLane for a PowerPoint presentation about the proposed Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center on Wednesday, May 12, at the SEARHC At Kaník Hít Community Health Services Building first-floor conference room. Kerry showed his presentation (attached) and provided a status update for the project. He also took feedback from the participants, seeking ideas for the next steps needed to complete the project.

The Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center is a project of the Sitka Local Foods Network to address one of the top local health priorities identified at the 2008 Sitka Health Summit. Sitka residents said they wanted a community greenhouse in order to make more locally grown fruits and vegetables available in town, and a community greenhouse is seen as a way to grow fruits and veggies all year. In addition to local food being healthier for you, local food also provides food security in case of a disaster or other event that keeps the barges or airplanes from delivering (it’s estimated that 95 percent of the food eaten in Alaska is shipped in from the Lower 48 or overseas).

Currently, the Sitka Local Foods Network is in negotiations with the State of Alaska to lease an unused piece of Mt. Edgecumbe High School-owned land on Japonski Island near Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital. If the lease goes through, the community greenhouse will help Sitka grow more fruits and vegetables locally while extending our short growing season. The greenhouse can provide educational opportunities for Mt. Edgecumbe High School and University of Alaska Southeast-Sitka Campus students, as well as for other school, church and community groups who want to learn more about growing their own food. The community greenhouse also can provide horticultural therapy for medical and behavioral health patients.

Kerry said the model for the Sitka Community Garden and Education Center is the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens in Cheyenne, Wyo. Kerry used to work at the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens several years ago, and he has been given pointers by Cheyenne Botanic Gardens director/founder Shane Smith. The Cheyenne Botanic Gardens started out as a small-scale community greenhouse in 1977 that now features more than nine acres of extensive gardens, a solarium, arboretum and other features. It combines educational opportunities with production gardening and horticultural therapy (see fact sheet linked below).

Kerry said he is seeking letters of support from individuals and groups in Sitka who support the Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center, and a sample letter is attached below. For more information, contact Kerry at 966-8839 or 752-0654.

Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center PowerPoint presentation

Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center proposal 2010

Sample Letter of Support for the Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center

Cheyenne Botanic Gardens factsheet

• SEARHC hosts May 12 lunchtime presentation about Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center project

An artist's concept of one version of a proposed Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center

An artist's concept of one version of a proposed Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center

Have you heard about the proposed Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center? Join us for a short lunchtime presentation at noon on Wednesday, May 12, at the SEARHC At Kanik Hít Community Health Services Building first-floor conference room (1212 Seward Ave., down the hill from Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital, the building with the big totem pole in front).

The Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center is a project of the Sitka Local Foods Network to address one of the top local health priorities identified at the 2008 Sitka Health Summit. Currently, the Sitka Local Foods Network is in negotiations with the State of Alaska to lease an unused piece of Mt. Edgecumbe High School-owned land on Japonski Island near Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital.

If the lease goes through, the community greenhouse will help Sitka grow more fruits and vegetables locally while extending our short growing season. The greenhouse can provide educational opportunities for Mt. Edgecumbe High School and University of Alaska Southeast-Sitka Campus students, as well as for other school, church and community groups who want to learn more about growing their own food. The community greenhouse also can provide horticultural therapy for medical and behavioral health patients.

This short lunchtime PowerPoint presentation will be made by SEARHC Grant Writer Kerry MacLane, who also serves as president of the Sitka Local Foods Network, http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/. For more information, contact Kerry at 966-8839.

A 2009 proposal for the Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center (note, the education aspect of the project has been expanded since this proposal was written)

• Sitka Local Foods Network board meeting time and location changed for Monday, May 3

The 2009-10 Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors. Back row, from left, Doug Osborne, Linda Wilson, Lisa Sadleir-Hart, Natalie Sattler, Peggy Reeves and Maybelle Filler. Front row, from left, Lynnda Strong, Kerry MacLane and Suzan Brawnlyn. Not pictured, Tom Crane.

The 2009-10 Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors. Back row, from left, Doug Osborne, Linda Wilson, Lisa Sadleir-Hart, Natalie Sattler, Peggy Reeves and Maybelle Filler. Front row, from left, Lynnda Strong, Kerry MacLane and Suzan Brawnlyn. Not pictured, Tom Crane.

The time and location have been changed for this month’s meeting Sitka Local Foods Network Board of Directors. The meeting now will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, May 3, at the Sitka Economic Development Association (SEDA)/Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce conference room on the second floor of the Troutte Center Building on Lincoln Street (above Seasons card store).

Some of the agenda items for this meeting include Sitka Farmers Market planning, an update from the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden, information about a new garden at U.S. Coast Guard-Air Station Sitka, an update on the 2010 farmers market vendor requirements for the WIC (Women, Infants, Children) supplemental food program, an update on the two presentations by nationally known gardener/author Ed Hume on Monday, May 31, and information about the state response to a request to lease some empty Mt. Edgecumbe High School land for a community greenhouse.

The Sitka Local Foods Network board meetings are open to the public and we welcome new volunteers who want to help with our projects. For more information, contact Kerry MacLane at 752-0654 or maclanekerry@yahoo.com, or Linda Wilson at 747-3096 (evenings or weekends only) or lawilson87@hotmail.com.

Suggested agenda for May 3, 2010, meeting of the Sitka Local Foods Network Board of Directors

• ANSWER Camp prepares for 2009 students

ANSWER Camp teachers Adriana Rodriguez, left, Alberta Demantle, Jordan Baumgartner, Collauna Marley and Chohla Moll prepare sockeye salmon for the smoker Wednesday night so it will be ready when the students arrive in Sitka on Friday.

ANSWER Camp teachers Adriana Rodriguez, left, Alberta Demantle, Jordan Baumgartner, Collauna Marley and Chohla Moll prepare sockeye salmon for the smoker Wednesday night so it will be ready when the students arrive in Sitka on Friday.

Seventh and eighth grade students from all over Alaska will be arriving in Sitka this week for the 12th annual Alaska Native Student Wisdom Enrichment Retreat, commonly known as ANSWER Camp, a 12-day residential program for Alaska Native students sponsored by the Southeast Regional Resource Center (SERRC) out of Juneau.

Students at the ANSWER Camp stay at Mt. Edgecumbe High School in Sitka for two weeks of intensive science, math and cultural experiences as they explore traditional methods of food preservation. ANSWER Camp takes place from July 17-30, and it is free to the 75-80 students lucky enough to be selected from several rural Alaska communities to participate in the program. A U.S. Department of Education grant pays for the students’ transportation to and from Sitka, their housing and food.

ANSWER Camp makes math and science instruction more meaningful for the students by linking traditional Alaska Native values to western scientific principles. The program prepares middle school students from rural Alaska to enter high school, and it helps make science and math come alive for the students as they learn how even traditional cultural activities such as preserving subsistence foods are affected by science and math.

While the students prepare salmon, they will do tests to see how different brine mixtures affect the taste (chemistry). They also will learn how to preserve berries, seaweed and medicinal plants. The students will learn biology by studying critters, and they will gather different plants to study botany. ANSWER Camp has helped steer many students toward science and health careers later in life.

This is one of several camps in the Sitka area that teach people about traditional foods from Southeast Alaska. The Sitka Native Education Program (SNEP) hosts several events during the summer, as so do Sitka residents John and Roby Littlefield at their Dog Point Fish Camp. The Alaska Native Sisterhood camp in Sitka also hosts traditional foods camps at Dog Point Fish Camp.

Click here for more information about the Alaska Native Student Wisdom Enrichment Retreat, commonly called the ANSWER Camp, sponsored by the Southeast Regional Resource Center (SERRC).

Chohla Moll grabs some sockeye salmon out of the brine mixture so she can hang it in the smoker.

Chohla Moll grabs some sockeye salmon out of the brine mixture so she can hang it in the smoker.

Sockeye salmon hangs from the racks in the smoker.

Sockeye salmon hangs from the racks in the smoker.