Baltimore Organizations Unite to Provide Healthy Source of Protein to Underserved Communities

Date: August 20, 2018

In central Maryland, more than 319,000 people don’t have access to healthy food*. The average Maryland SNAP (food stamps) benefit awarded is just $30 per week, per person — and typically the cheapest grocery options are not the healthiest.

But some underserved communities will now have access to healthy, high-quality protein foods such as the bronzini fish. The Feeding Individuals to Support Health (FISH) Project, the first public-private partnership of its kind, is spearheaded by United Way of Central Maryland and includes McCormick & Co., the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET), University of Maryland, Baltimore County and seafood wholesaler JJ McDonnell.

“In many communities, people don’t have access or the financial means to purchase healthy food, like fish,” said Franklyn Baker, president and CEO, United Way of Central Maryland. “Helping at-risk families become successful is at the heart of our work — and to achieve this, we believe it’s critical that they can get healthy, affordable food.”

The FISH Project is currently growing and harvesting bronzini, a Mediterranean sea bass that can be easily prepared in an oven or on a stovetop or grill. Future growth and harvest cycles could include shrimp.

“This project is just one example of the important work that we are doing at IMET to be sure that our science does not just stay in our laboratories but goes out to be used in useful ways in the community,” said Dr. Russell Hill, Director of the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology.

“UMBC is proud to be part of this important collaboration, applying scientific innovation in aquaculture to offer a healthy source of food for our local communities,” said Freeman Hrabowski, president, University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

JJ McDonnell provides processing and distributes the fish to partner nonprofits including the Franciscan Center and Maryland Food Bank.

A major supporter of the project, McCormick’s Flavor for Life® program also will be providing simple, healthy recipes that utilize low-cost ingredients, which will be distributed to the community along with the fresh fish.

Watch a video about the project.

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