Fish on Fridays may be just the beginning
By Doreen Leggett
Broad Reach CEO Bill Bogdanovich remembers when a family member of one of the residents at The Victorian, Broad Reach’s assisted living residence in Chatham, provided lobster, fresh off the boat, for everybody’s lunch – as in dozens of people.
“Heck of a day,” said Bogdanovich with a grin.
Those days could become the new normal if a plan championed by the Fishermen’s Alliance becomes a reality.
We’re reaching out to facilities across the Cape that serve seniors to see if there is an interest in serving more fish from local captains. To gauge interest, the Fishermen’s Alliance secured funding from Cape Cod Healthcare to send a survey to facilities up and down the Cape.
“Our hope is that we can create a great connection between Cape Cod's historic fishing fleet and our older friends and neighbors in assisted living. We're reaching out to understand the needs of chefs in the kitchens of those facilities, and then we can try to bring the best local fish in the world to them, and the people they serve,” said Seth Rolbein, director of the Cape Cod Fisheries Trust, who helped develop the survey with Research Coordinator George Maynard.
The survey is designed to get an idea of interest, need and scope, and troubleshoot potential issues.
Questions range from whether the organization prepares food onsite or contracts with an external supplier, to how many individuals they serve. The survey also asks food service managers how many seafood meals are served in a typical month and what local seafood products would be of interest.
Perhaps most importantly, the survey asks what a reasonable price point would be and what are the challenges of serving more local seafood.
The program would build on a successful partnership the Fishermen’s Alliance has had with the Family Pantry of Cape Cod. The Fish for Families program, which pays market rates to provide local fish to food pantries across the Cape, was launched in 2013 and has so far distributed more than 50,000 pounds of food to people in need.
“This is one more way fishermen can keep their catch local, diversify the markets that supports their hard work, and contribute to the health and wellbeing of our community,” Rolbein said.
Cape Cod Healthcare has supported Fish for Families as well, highlighting the numerous health benefits of fish.
Richard Banks, a volunteer for the one of the meal programs organized through the Cape's Hunger Network and a Fishermen's Alliance board member, sees great value in the initiative.
“Serving locally caught seafood has several benefits to the community, the organizations that serve it and the individuals who consume it,” said Banks, a skilled chef. “Organizations benefit economically from serving locally caught seafood. Consumers benefit due to the numerous health benefits it contains. Reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke, obesity and hypertension are a few of the benefits.”
Banks said the benefits of eating seafood go beyond the obvious. He sees the Cape’s connection with the water as part of the peninsula’s identity.
“Cape Cod has a long rich heritage of fishing,” he said. “Serving locally caught seafood helps to preserve that heritage.”
Bogdanovich feels much the same. He said many people on the Cape, by their very nature, are supportive of buying locally, eating locally and supporting their community.
Having local fish served in his award-winning facilities would make sense. Many residents grew up on the Cape and may even have fished themselves, or had neighbors that shared their catch.
“It’s meaningful to them,” he said. “It’s more than a culinary experience. People feel better when they are eating better.”