• Join us at the Fish to Schools benefit dinner on Wednesday, April 25

Come help Sitkans support the award-winning Fish to Schools program by attending a benefit dinner from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 25, at Sweetland Hall on the Sheldon Jackson Campus.

This benefit dinner will include a presentation of the grand prize of the Alaska Farm to Schools Challenge for the 2011-12 school year, which will be presented by Johanna Herron of the Alaska Department of Resources. The benefit features a local seafood dinner of crispy oven-baked rockfish prepared by chef Colette Nelson of Ludvig’s Bistro and students from Pacific High School’s food services program.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and students, and $5 for youth age 18 and younger, and they can be purchased at Old Harbor Books. All proceeds benefit the Sitka Fish to Schools program that brings regular fish meal choices to students at Blatchley Middle School, Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School and Pacific High School.

The Fish to Schools program (link goes to April 15 Juneau Empire article) was a community health project from the 2010 Sitka Health Summit, and the Sitka Conservation Society has been managing the 2-year-old program in partnership with the Sitka School District, local fishermen and other community partners. For more information about the Fish to Schools program, contact Tracy Gagnon of the Sitka Conservation Society at 747-7509 or tracy@sitkawild.org.

• Sitka’s ‘Fish to Schools’ project to be honored during Wednesday’s fish lunch at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School

Sitka’s Fish to Schools project will be honored with the grand prize of the Alaska Farm to School Challenge during the fish lunch from 11:20 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 11, at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School. Alaska First Lady Sandy Parnell and Alaska Division of Agriculture Director Franci Havermeister will be in attendance to present the award.

Sitka’s Fish to Schools project came out of the 2010 Sitka Health Summit, when increasing access to locally harvest fish in school menus was chosen as one of the community’s top four health priorities for the year. The project started with a monthly fish lunch entrée option at Blatchley Middle School, then expanded to Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary and Pacific High School. The program now is twice-monthly, and it has grown with the support of the Sitka Conservation Society, Sitka School District, local fishermen, and other community members. The program has become a successful model for what can be done in other parts of the state.

“We are excited to honor Sitka in its efforts, and appreciate that First Lady Sandy Parnell also see the value in projects like this that highlight both Alaska’s youth and natural resource bounty,” Havermeister said in a press release.

For more information about Sitka’s Fish to Schools program, contact Tracy Gagnon at 747-7509 or tracy@sitkawild.org.

• Alaskans Own seafood to start community supported fisheries (CSF) program in Sitka

The Alaskans Own seafood company is starting a community supported fisheries (CSF) program in Sitka this summer. The CSF program will be modeled after the community supported agriculture (CSA) subscription programs used by small farms around the country.

Alaskans Own is a group of independent fishermen in Sitka whose commitment to conservation is supported by the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust. “For us, it’s not just about catching fish, it’s about caring for the fisheries. It’s our passion, our future. Our commitment to the resource comes through in the quality of Alaskans Own seafood — it’s the best, and we’re proud of that,” says Jeff Farvour of the F/V Christi-Rob and an occasional vendor at the Sitka Farmers Market.

The Alaskans Own CSF program features a three-month subscription that lasts from June through August. During these three months, subscribers will receive a total of 40 pounds of fresh, locally caught wild seafood (20 pounds for the half-subscription option) that features a selection of king and coho (silver) salmon, rockfish and ling cod, halibut and black cod (sablefish), plus some free black cod tips.

Subscribers will receive their fish during twice-monthly pick-ups (dates and times TBA) at the Mill Building, 836 Lincoln St., next to the Sitka Sound Science Center. All seafood is flash frozen at its freshest, portioned and commercially vacuum-packed.

Only 15 subscriptions are available this year, and the cost is $380 for a full subscription and $190 for a half-subscription. For more information, contact Beth Short at 738-3360, or e-mail her at info@alaskansown.com to register. Payment is by check for now, but credit cards soon. Proceeds benefit the Fisheries Conservation Network and the Sitka fishing community.

2010 Community Supported Fisheries information sheet