Tenth annual Fish To Schools coho donation drive has a new partner

Sitka commercial troller Eric Jordan discusses the fishing industry with local students during a Fish To Schools have lunch with a fisherman event (photo courtesy Sitka Conservation Society)

(The following was submitted as a letter to the editor that ran in the Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel)

Sitka’s Fish to Schools program is celebrating a decade of bringing locally caught seafood lunches into all of Sitka’s schools. While the program typically relies solely on donations from local fishermen, Sitka Producers Cooperative (SPC) and Sitka Sounds Seafoods, (SSS) this year the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association (ALFA) will also be purchasing fish. We’re grateful that ALFA’s investment in food security will ensure that Sitka’s kids have access to nourishing foods, while circulating money in the local economy and taking pressure off of fishermen during a challenging summer.

The coho donation drive will operate as usual from Aug. 15 to Sept. 15, and all contributions are welcome and appreciated. Sitka’s fishermen are the heart and soul of the Fish to Schools program and this program wouldn’t exist without their generosity and dedication to feeding the next generation of ocean stewards.

Linda Behnken, Executive Director of ALFA, said on the program, “Sitka fishermen and local processors SPC and Sitka Sound Seafoods have long supported Fish to Schools and have donated generously over the years. ALFA/ASFT (Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust) are grateful to be in a position this year to support the purchase of seafood for schools to take the pressure off Sitka fishermen and processors who are reeling from the impacts of COVID-19.“

Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School student Naomi Capp, age 9, talks with fisherman Steve Lawrie Wednesday (April 25, 2018) during lunch at the school. The elementary school was hosting fishermen who donated part of their catch to the Fish to Schools program. The program is managed by the Sitka Conservation Society and provides fish dishes as part of the lunch programs at Baranof Elementary School, Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School, Blatchley Middle School, Sitka High School, Pacific High School, the SEER School, and Mount Edgecumbe High School. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

The Sitka Fish to Schools program brings locally caught seafood lunches and salmon-focused classroom curricula into schools. The mission of this program is to deepen youth understanding of local seafood resources and teach children that salmon require respect in both harvest and habitat. Fish to Schools lays the groundwork for Sitka’s youth to discover how the commercial fishing industry operates and inspires students to support or become involved in one of Southeast Alaska’s most important economic sectors. Having access to local seafood reminds us how lucky we are to be Alaskans!

“Ten years of Fish to Schools in Sitka has flown by. The best part of being involved in this program is witnessing how many community members care about our local kids and want to help this program succeed. To me, Fish to Schools really exemplifies how wonderful our community is,” longtime program supporter Lexi Fish said. She continued, “my daughter was a kindergartener last year and loved eating the school lunch on Wednesdays — salmon burgers were her favorite.”

Since it became a community wellness project at the 2010 Sitka Health Summit, the Fish to Schools program has been a partner-rich endeavor. Local processors including Sitka Sound Seafoods and the Seafood Producers Cooperative, the Sitka School District, Mount Edgecumbe High School, the SEER School, Head Start — and in particular the cafeteria teams at those facilities — along with community members Lexi Fish and Beth Short-Rhoads have all been key players in realizing this initiative from the ground up. We’re happy to expand this list this year to include ALFA. And of course, the program would not be possible without such strong support from the local fishermen who donate their catch to the program, nourishing students with the Omega-3s and other vitamins wild salmon provide.

To donate, tell scale operators how many fish you would like to donate as you offload at Seafood Producers Cooperative or Sitka Sound Seafoods. If fishermen have yelloweye rockfish overage, they are welcome to donate them to Fish to Schools as well. If you would like to donate to Fish to Schools, please contact Heather Bauscher of Sitka Conservation Society at heather@sitkawild.org or 747-7509 for more information.

Sincerely,

Sitka Conservation Society

Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School hosts We Love Our Fishermen lunch as part of Fish To Schools program

Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School student Naomi Capp, age 9, talks with fisherman Steve Lawrie during a “We Love Our Fishermen” lunch on Wednesday (April 26) at the school. The elementary school was hosting fishermen who donated part of their catch to the Fish to Schools program. The program is managed by the Sitka Conservation Society and provides locally caught fish dishes and education about fishing as part of the lunch programs at Baranof Elementary School, Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School, Blatchley Middle School, Sitka High School, Pacific High School, the SEER School, and Mount Edgecumbe High School. The Fish to Schools program was a project of the Sitka Health Summit. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

• Scenes from the Quick and Easy Thai Cooking class at the Sitka Kitch

NancyDiscussesTomKhaGaiRecipe

kitch_logo_mainStudents learned how to cook Thai food while also raising funds for a portrait to honor William Stortz during the special Quick and Easy Thai Cooking class taught by Nancy Knapp on Tuesday, Feb. 23, at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen.

The students learned how to cook kaeng paneng moo (a curry dish with pork in it, for this class) and tom kha gai (a chicken soup), and also learned how they could add vegetables from their home gardens or local stores to the dishes. Cooks can substitute tofu or similar products for the meat to make vegetarian versions of the dishes. The instructor, longtime Sitka resident and health program manager Nancy Knapp, has worked in Thailand and Laos and brought that experience to the classes.

WilliamStortz

William Stortz

 

The class served as a fundraiser to purchase a portrait of William Stortz, painted by Sitka artist Steve Lawrie. William Stortz was one of the three people who died in the August 2015 landslide, and the portrait will hang in the new art gallery bearing his name in the city offices. William was working as the city building inspector when the landslide happened, and before that he spent many years working for the facilities department at the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC). There also was a donation can where people could donate, and Nancy Knapp donated her instructor fee to the cause.

PanengCurryAndTomKhaGaiThe Sitka Kitch was a project of the 2013 Sitka Health Summit, and the project is coordinated by the Sitka Conservation Society, in partnership with the Sitka Local Foods Network. The Sitka Kitch can be rented to teach cooking and food preservation classes, by local cottage food industry entrepreneurs who need a commercial kitchen to make their products, and for large groups needing a large kitchen for a community dinner.

In addition to this special class, the Sitka Kitch has one class left in its winter Cooking From Scratch class series taught by local chefs in February (on homemade empanadas), but that class is full and already has a waiting list. The Sitka Kitch also is offering a Basic Culinary Skills class series taught by Westmark Hotel executive chef Kathy Jones in March, and there is still room for students to take those classes. The Basic Culinary Skills series is designed to help people who want to find work in the restaurant or catering fields improve their kitchen skills (these classes also will be open to people who want to improve their home cooking skills).

A slideshow of scenes from the Thai cooking class is posted below:

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• Quick and Easy Thai Cooking class to raise funds for William Stortz portrait

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kitch_logo_mainWant to learn how to make quick and easy Thai food in less than one hour from ingredients you can buy at your local grocery store or grow in your garden?

Longtime Sitka resident Nancy Knapp, a health professional who spent many years in Thailand and Laos, will teach this class, which takes place from 5:30-7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 23, at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen (inside the First Presbyterian Church, 505 Sawmill Creek Road). Students should bring three containers to the class, one each for rice, tom kha gai, and kaeng penang moo. Students will take home dinner for two people to eat later. These dishes will be non-vegetarian, but tofu or tempeh can be used to replace the chicken or pork when cooking.

WilliamStortz

William Stortz

This class will serve as a fundraiser to purchase a portrait of William Stortz, painted by Sitka artist Steve Lawrie. William Stortz was one of the three people who died in the August 2015 landslide, and the portrait will hang in the new art gallery bearing his name in the city offices. William was working as the city building inspector when the landslide happened, and before that he spent many years working for the facilities department at the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC). There also will be a donation can where people can donate, and Nancy Knapp will donate her instructor fee to the cause.

KaengPenangMoo111228145228Space is limited to 10 students, so please register early. You can register by clicking this link (you will pay by cash or check at the class). Registration ends at noon on Sunday, Feb. 21, so the instructor has time to purchase supplies. The class fee is $30 per student (not including a possible materials fee split between students), and students will pay by cash or check at the class. Email sitkakitch@sitkawild.org for more information.

The Sitka Kitch was a project of the 2013 Sitka Health Summit, and the project is coordinated by the Sitka Conservation Society, in partnership with the Sitka Local Foods Network. The Sitka Kitch can be rented to teach cooking and food preservation classes, by local cottage food industry entrepreneurs who need a commercial kitchen to make their products, and for large groups needing a large kitchen for a community dinner.

In addition to this special class, the Sitka Kitch is offering a winter Cooking From Scratch class series taught by local chefs in February and a Basic Culinary Skills class series taught by Westmark Hotel executive chef Kathy Jones in March. The Basic Culinary Skills series is designed to help people who want to find work in the restaurant or catering fields improve their kitchen skills (these classes also will be open to people who want to improve their home cooking skills).