Chicopee Takes Gulf of Maine Seafood to SchoolIn Supporting Sustainable Seafood
This year, Chicopee, MA became the first public school system to join GMRI’s Gulf of Maine Responsibly Harvested® program. That means 7,800 students in the western Massachusetts district will now regularly eat responsibly harvested seafood that is traceable to the Gulf of Maine.
The Gulf of Maine Responsibly Harvested program represents a community of businesses committed to the sustainability of the region’s seafood economy.
“Serving Gulf of Maine Responsibly Harvested seafood is a win-win-win scenario,” said Chicopee sustainability coordinator Madison Walker. “We’re supporting our regional food economy and we’re getting a healthy, local food item. Plus, GMRI helps us teach students about the region’s fishing communities and marine ecosystem.”
With 65% of Chicopee students eligible for free and reduced school lunch, sourcing locally is often the best way to serve fresh, nutritious food – an objective of the school’s Chicopee Fresh program. With meal costs limited to $1.20-$1.50 per plate, underutilized species like redfish offer affordability, sustainability, and nutrition.
Other participating schools include University of New Hampshire, Colby College, and Harvard University. Chicopee is showing K-12 school districts can source seafood regionally, too.
Demand from institutions like these provides valuable support for our working waterfronts. Redfish are an underloved species in the Gulf of Maine – meaning the species is abundant and well managed, but not well-known by consumers. Due to this unfamiliarity, fishermen are typically unable to get a good price for the local product. The buying power of larger institutions helps provide more predictable demand and a better price.
“School districts, students, and the region’s fishing communities all benefit from these partnerships, so we hope to engage as many schools as possible,” said Kyle Foley, Sustainable Seafood Brand Manager.