March 9, 2017
Fish sticks made from Alaska pollock coated with crispy whole grain crusts are set to hit school lunch trays this spring.
This product is going to be made with deep skinned Alaska pollock which is another processing step that is taken when the skin is taken of, a deeper cut is made so the fat line in the fish is removed so when you look at the indisde of the fish stick it is perfectly white. We think kids are really going to like this product.
Pat Shanahan is program director for the trade group Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers. GAPP has been working with the US Department of Agriculture to add the fish sticks to its food list, which it finally did in January.
The USDA began purchasing frozen blocks of Alaska pollock in 2009, which schools could use to make any products they wanted. That works well for states or large districts that could buy half or whole truckloads. Shanahan says the fish sticks open the door for smaller or poorer school districts to purchase a ready-made product.
So this opportunity will allow schools to buy a product that is already made and will give many more schools the opportunity to serve Alaska pollock.
GAPP also is doing outreach to inform schools that US dietary guidelines recommend eating seafood twice a week, but studies show that 80 percent of Americans are not. Shanahan says schools are an excellent way to address this diet deficit. And they are showing them to think beyond just dipping fish sticks in ketchup or other sauces.
So we’ve come up with a number of recipes – to put them in wraps, and salads and slider sandwiches and different applications that make fish more exciting and on trend, because kids really are eating foods that they see in restaurants. They are very sophisticated eaters.
Shanahan says for many kids, school might be the only place where they get to eat fish so it better be good. Ultimately, the goal is to make America’s kids become life-long fish eaters. With 30 million school lunches served every day, if even a small portion are Alaska pollock, it’s a big win for the industry.
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