Guests at the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program soup kitchen in Brunswick received a special Christmas Eve meal this year – locally produced monkfish stew.
The cream-based stew containing mild fish, vegetables and subtle spices was distributed by the local food access organization and produced by the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association – another Brunswick-based nonprofit who works to solve the problems facing the Maine fishing community.
The stew was created with help from the Hurricane’s Soup Company in Greene Maine, according to Susan Olcott, director of operations for the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association. Friday’s batch was the first of the final product, Olcott said, and the stew will now be sold in a growing list of restaurants and markets across Maine to benefit the organization’s Fishermen Feeding Mainers program.
Fishermen Feeding Mainers was launched in 2020 and funds local fishermen whose catch is cut and packaged by Maine businesses and distributed to hungry Mainers across the state. Through this program, more than 320,000 meals have been donated to more than 50 schools and service groups, benefiting more than 90 fishermen and fishworkers across the state. At the start of this month, the program had raised approximately $800,000.
“In order to kick it off in what we thought would be a generous way over the holidays to more directly benefit from this program, we’re deciding to donate a bundle here,” Olcott said.
The ingredients for the stew, including the monkfish, are all sourced from vendors in Maine.
About 150 servings of the stew were distributed at the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program soup kitchen on Friday. By the end of the year, the organization will have served more than 95,000 free cooked meals to hungry Mainers, a 55% increase from 2020.
“We are usually short of staff in terms of volunteers and staff on Christmas Eve,” said Heather Arvidson, volunteer and client services manager for the program. “So to have a simple meal for the volunteers who are here, which today was incredibly simple but also very filling, nutritious and healthy and I’m sure delicious, is great for us.”
The Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program also serves the Midcoast region through a food pantry, food bank, mobile pantries, school pantries, summer meal program and of satellite pantries.
Anglerfish are a well-populated groundfish species that can be caught off the coast of Maine. Fish meat comes mainly from the tail and is characterized by its meaty texture comparable to that of lobster. Fish has grown in popularity in recent years, in part thanks to more sustainability-conscious consumers and producers.
Going forward, the stew will be sold at Morning Glory Natural Foods, The Brunswick Diner and Frontier in Brunswick, as well as Free Range Fish and Fork Food Lab in Portland.
The suggested retail price is $12 per box.
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