Movement grows to establish seafood ‘gleaning’ program in N.J.

A commercial scallop fishing boat enters the Manasquan Inlet in Point Pleasant, N.J.  (Wayne Parry/AP Photo, File)

A commercial scallop fishing boat enters the Manasquan Inlet in Point Pleasant, N.J. (Wayne Parry/AP Photo, File)

The Cape May County Board of Freeholders is the latest legislative body to support a program that would allow the New Jersey fishing industry to donate discarded seafood to food banks, pantries, and soup kitchens.

Known as gleaning, the growing movement seeks to increase food security and reduce food waste by utilizing the approximately 20 percent of seafood that is discarded by United States fisheries annually for consumption.

“We in Cape May County are proud to support this initiative,” said Cape May County Freeholder Director Gerald Thornton. “The fishing industry is so important to our economy, and at the end of the day this can help people who are in real need.”

The New Jersey commercial fishing industry’s annual harvest is valued at more than $166 million, with over 107 million pounds of seafood harvested annually.

In New Jersey, 1.15 million people, including 375,000 children, are affected by food insecurity, according to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. The New Jersey legislature is seeking to combat hunger through a pending anti-hunger package.

The state’s farming industry is activity involved in collecting unused fresh food from farms between September and November and donating to various nonprofit organizations.

The state legislature has adopted resolutions in support of gleaning. A 2015 resolution established the last week of September as “New Jersey Gleaning Week.” And in 2018, the body adopted another resolution to support a seafood gleaning program.

Members of the state’s commercial fishing industry have applied to the federal government for grants to establish the program. Toms River, Lavallette, and Bay Head have adopted resolutions in support of seafood gleaning.

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