Domestic food and nutrition assistance programs have a broad reach across the country. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) manages food and nutrition assistance programs, worth $148 billion, that help provide food for millions of Americans every day. They include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Supplemental Nutrition for Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC), School Meals, and the Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), among others. The Alaska Global Food Aid Program works to make sure that Alaska seafood is available through these programs. Alaska canned salmon and Alaska pollock are in the food baskets and meals of domestic food assistance programs for mothers and children, distributed through health centers, schools, preschools, and for whole families through food banks and pantries, in lean times and when disasters strike.
Ensuring that Alaska seafood is an ingrained component of food assistance programs is beneficial in a number of ways. Alaska seafood plays an important role in supplying critical nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, to millions of food insecure people who participate in food and nutrition programs in the United States.
It is an excellent means to introduce children, mothers and low-income people to healthy eating habits and the taste and nutritional benefits of consuming seafood. Once consumers are educated about the nutritional and sustainable benefits of Alaska seafood through these programs, it is more likely that they will seek it out later, when they are no longer reliant on food assistance programs.
There is a very strong demand for shelf-stable, high-quality protein for these programs. We are proud that Alaska was ready and able to provide canned salmon to USDA programs that reached men, women and children in every state across the country with 80 million servings of Alaska canned salmon in 2015 (see map). We developed and provided a cookbook to go with the canned salmon, with recipes specially designed for the food bank clientele and featuring affordable ingredients that can be found in any food bank or grocery store in the US.