Project

Sea to School

Connecting New England's K-12 schools with local seafood.

Our sustainable seafood team received a 2020 USDA Farm to School grant to work with K-12 schools across New England to increase the amount of local seafood served in public school cafeterias. The project aims to improve access to local seafood by implementing a comprehensive sea to school program that will increase local seafood sourcing and provide seafood education in schools.

Project Goals:

  • Increase the amount of local seafood served in K-12 schools in New England by partnering with school foodservice staff.
  • Develop and strengthen education around local seafood in K-12 schools in New England.
  • Build demand and expand markets for local seafood — helping to support local coastal communities.
  • Serve up a nutritious protein to students across New England to grow a new generation of (local) seafood eaters and enthusiasts.

We are partnering with eight school districts serving more than 10,000 students across New England (in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Vermont) to increase how much local fish is served to students. Partner schools pledge to serve local seafood in their cafeterias and each set a specific goal around seafood sourcing. Local seafood procurement can be challenging for K-12 schools and this project will help make the necessary connections to ensure schools meet their local seafood goals. Additionally, this project aims to teach students across the region about local seafood and the benefits that come along with it — from health and nutrition to economy and community, as well as climate impacts and marine ecosystems.

Sea to School Resource Hub

Our toolkit contains 50 seafood recipes designed for K-12 schools, plus education and engagement resources for foodservice staff, teachers, and others to develop sea to school programming and education.

Why seafood in schools?

Seafood is a healthy protein, rich in nutrients like vitamins A and D and omega-3 fatty acids — all of which are important for the growth and development of healthy kids.

On average, 45% of participating districts' students receive free and reduced lunch, and many students get about one third of their daily caloric intake from public school lunch programs, so serving up seafood is a great opportunity to meet students’ nutritional needs. K-12 schools are also a largely untapped market for local fishermen, making this a win-win for our communities.

Why local?

Many fisheries in our region are healthy and abundant, yet several species are under-harvested due to the lack of market demand and tough competition with imported seafood. Prioritizing local seafood not only helps to support local fishermen, but has rippling economic impacts throughout the supply chain to dockside businesses like ice houses, gear businesses, seafood processors, and also grocers and restaurants in our communities.

The Challenges

Right now, 91% of the seafood consumed in the US is imported, but we can make a dent in that number by increasing local seafood sales in our region, including in New England's K-12 schools.

Less than 30% of New England's K-12 schools currently serve local seafood. Here's the breakdown across the region.

Maine K-12 Schools Serving Local Seafood
27%

In Maine, we're partnering with Portland Public Schools, the Auburn School Department, and Sheepscot Valley RSU-12.

Massachusetts K-12 Schools Serving Local Seafood
14%

In Massachusetts, we're partnering with New Bedford Public Schools and Chicopee Public School.

By working with schools across New England, we can raise the percentage of local seafood served in the our schools' cafeterias region-wide.

New Hampshire K-12 Schools Serving Local Seafood
11%

In New Hampshire, we're partnering with the Portsmouth School Department.

Vermont K-12 Schools Serving Local Seafood
<10%

In Vermont, we're partnering with the Lamoille North Supervisory Union and the Windham Northeast Supervisory Union.

Rows of simplistically drawn fish in white, over a blue background

The Opportunities

Seafood is a great opportunity for K-12 schools to serve a healthy, local protein to students across New England.

The Gulf of Maine and local fishing communities provide an abundance of responsibly harvested seafood to our region.

Gulf of Maine Responsibly Harvested® Species
13

We've verified 13 species (and counting) under our Gulf of Maine Responsibly Harvested label.

Allowable Sustainable Catch Levels
<50%

Fishermen are harvesting <50% of what they are responsibly allowed to catch due to lack of market demand for the full variety of fish they can catch.

Project Team

Project Sponsor

This project is generously supported by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.

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