food banks

Salmon farmers step up to feed Canadians in need

Salmon farmers partner with Food Banks Canada to donate equivalent of 272,000 meals

By SeaWestNews

As demands on food banks across the country continue to grow due to the ongoing pandemic, salmon farmers in B.C. are stepping up their donations to feed Canadians in need this summer.

The BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) together with Cermaq Canada and Grieg Seafood BC are donating 60,000 pounds of salmon (contents of 120,000 cans) to Food Banks Canada’s national hamper distribution initiative to assist with the demands on food banks.

This is in addition to the April donation of 86,000 cans of salmon to food banks across B.C.

“When we saw the BC salmon farmers’ generous donation to Food Banks BC in April, we reached out to BCSFA to see if we could work together on a national project,” said Chris Hatch, Chief Executive officer for Food Banks Canada.

“Protein donations are hard to come by, especially since COVID-19, where protein has become short in supply. Shelf-stable healthy protein is highly desired by food banks, but often the least donated because it’s expensive.

“This donation will feed thousands of Canadians in need this summer,” said Hatch.

Before the pandemic, Canadians visited food banks nearly 1.1 million times a month across the nation, and an increased demand is expected to last beyond the pandemic as the economy slowly bounces back.

The pandemic has seen food banks and other businesses shift towards pre-packaged, shelf-stable foods that require less volunteer or client handling of products.

Food Banks Canada supports a unique network of over 3,000 food related organizations in every province and territory supporting about 800,000 Canadians each month. More than one-third of food bank recipients are under 18 years old.

Marilyn Hutchinson (left), Director of Indigenous and Community Relations for Grieg Seafood BC, with Linda Sams (right), Sustainable Development Director for Cermaq Canada proudly holding BC raised farmed Atlantic salmon cans in Campbell River, BC

“We knew we had to find a way to make something happen, so we would like to thank both Grieg and Cermaq for stepping up and filling this need,” said John Paul Fraser, Executive Director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association.

“Canned salmon isn’t a product we normally produce, so this is truly a tailor-made product for food banks,” he said.

This national BC salmon farmers’ donation includes:

  • 60,000 pounds of Atlantic salmon (or contents of approx. 120,000 cans): Cermaq and Grieg each donated 30,000 pounds of fresh Atlantic salmon, which has been processed and canned by St. Jean’s Cannery & Smokehouse in Nanaimo. This will produce 120,000 cans to Food Banks Canada to be added to hampers in Toronto, ON and distributed throughout the country.
  • Transportation: Aquatrans Distributors Inc. and Seaspan Ferries Corp are donating their costs to transport the product within BC.
  • Processing. The processing and canning costs are covered in part via an investment through the Government of Canada’s Local Food Infrastructure Fund emergency funding.

Together, with BC salmon farmers’ previous donations to Food Banks BC, this brings total salmon donations equivalent to over half a million meals to Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is with great pride that Aquatrans is taking part in the generous donation from Cermaq Canada and Grieg Seafood BC to feed those in need in Canada. There is no better feeling than helping fellow Canadians on a large scale,” said Ryan Brush, General Manager, Aquatrans Distributors Inc.

David Kiemele, Managing Director, Cermaq Canada said: “We are pleased to be able to share our healthy, sustainably grown and harvested salmon for families and individuals across Canada to help ensure they have access to nutritious, Canadian grown food”

“When Food Banks Canada reached out to the BC Salmon Farmers Association to participate in this national initiative, there was no doubt that Grieg would contribute canned salmon again, alongside our friends at Cermaq,” said Rocky Boschman, Managing Director of Grieg Seafood BC.

“We know how hard people have been hit during this pandemic, so getting healthy, canned salmon to homes across the country is one thing we can do as salmon farmers to help.”