High School Students Bring Seafood to Low-Income Consumers

What is Fishadelphia?

Based in Philadelphia, Fishadelphia is a pilot community seafood program that was awarded a Saltonstall-Kennedy (S-K) Grant in 2020. It was designed to connect low-income consumers in Northern Philadelphia with neighboring New Jersey harvesters. This project promotes improved business practices, increased market demand for U.S. commercial fish species, and keeping working waterfronts viable.

Grants are critical to the fishing industry. Traditional funding can be hard to obtain for smaller seafood programs, but that’s where the S-K program can help. These grants help bridge that gap and support projects that are outside of the mainstream lending arena.

Since 1980, the S-K Grants program has helped turn ideas into reality. In 2018, Dr. Talia Young started this project while a Smith Conservation Postdoctoral Fellow at Princeton University. Her goal was to connect the fishing communities with the eating communities in the city.

“This is a cool project and one that I’m happy to highlight because it supports community participation that contributes to the promotion of U.S. seafood. This provides fresh seafood to underserved communities, and increases the customer base for our working waterfronts, which aligns with the goals of the S-K grant program,” said Nicole MacDonald, Regional S-K Grant Manager at the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office.

Take a Closer Look

Fishadelphia in essence is a de facto retail fish market with students running the show. The whole idea is to make new connections by promoting, developing, and marketing local seafood to low-income people of color. The diverse team consists of middle school, high school, and college students, family, teachers, seafood harvesters, and marine biologists. The program is creative and paves the way for expansion. It serves as a model for other communities struggling to incorporate healthy seafood into their diets. It’s not surprising MacDonald thinks that this project is “cool”—because it is.

How Does it Work?

George Mathis is a third-generation New Jersey bayman and member of the Heritage Shellfish Cooperative. Mr. Mathis helped to initiate Fishadelphia with his many connections in the seafood industry. He is in charge of purchasing the fish and bringing it to the city. He’s the guy on the supply side of the equation. He trucks dozens of varieties of seafood from local New Jersey fish houses and processors, and from several independent fishermen. These companies have also hosted tours of their facilities to provide the students hands-on experience. They include:

  • Lunds Seafood in Cape May
  • Viking Village in Barnegat Light
  • Fishermen’s Dock Cooperative in Point Pleasant
  • Randall’s Seafood and Maxwell Seafood
  • Sweet Amalia Oyster Farm

READ MORE at fisheries.noaa.gov