Wednesday, May 16, 2012

DNATL Food Assessment: Fresh Fish Sales and Calfresh

The DNATL Food Assessments have arrived, which list our strengths, weaknesses, challenges, and recommendations as a community. One thing that surprised me under weaknesses, was limited access to local fish and foods. It is unfortunate that almost all the fish caught in Crescent City is shipped hours away to other locations. Before I moved to Crescent City, I expected it to be a place where I could buy local fish anytime. Because the wholesaler's contract states that the seller can only sell fish to them, it makes it very difficult to sell local fish in the area. Essentially, the fish that are caught in Crescent City are shipped out, and the fish in our stores are shipped in from different locations. This system seems so odd to me, and their does not seem to be an easy way to change it.

The good news is that it appears a new market is opening at the old Surfside Grill and Brewery site on Front Street. It looks like they will be doing a lot of exporting, but also plan on operating a live fish market as well. This could be exactly what Crescent City needs and will give us a place to purchase local fish. It will be interesting to see what it is like when it finally opens, and if the public will be interested in it or not. I think it is important for everyone to offer full support to this new business so that we can have the opportunity to purchase fresh and local fish.

Another part of the Food Assessment that surprised me was a strength: the CalFresh participation rate. At first I thought a high rate of people on Calfresh would be a weakness, but what it really means is that most of those people that are eligible for food assistance are receiving it.  Del Norte County has the highest rate of participation in California at 87%.  This gives people the chance to purchase healthier foods that they may not have been able to receive, and also means more money is circulating in the community. With that said, there is still 13% of people that are eligible not receiving it, which could bring in more money to the community and offer better food options for residents. So, although we are doing a great job, their is still room to improve.

Here is the full list of Recommendations from the Food Assessment:
1. Expand programs that increase fresh and healthy food access for low-income consumers
2. Research the opportunity for fresh fish sales
3. Maximize economic benefits from food systems
4. Make healthy store conversions
5. Foster advocates for agriculture
6. Encourage local knowledge and self-reliance
7. Conduct further research to benefit the community's food system

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