The Seafood For Heroes program, organized and managed through the Napa Seafood Foundation, is using donations from seafood companies to provide healthy meals to first responders in Ukraine through the World Central Kitchen.
The program was formed in the early days of the global COVID-19 pandemic, as a way for participants in the foundation’s program to give back to first responders and health care workers on front lines.
“When COVID hit, we got together as a group and said ‘What can we do?’,” Food Group CEO Mark Cotter, who serves as a board member for the Napa Seafood Foundation, explained.
The idea was to provide seafood meals for frontline workers working hours under difficult situations.
Cotter said the idea was to help healthcare workers and the struggling restaurant industry by providing money and ingredients for meals too restaurants that had extra capacity due to lack of demand during the height of the pandemic.
Seafood Heroes was already providing meals for healthcare workers in New York City, which was hard hit early on during the pandemic. Cotter said they purchased thousands of meals from a couple of independent restaurants for major hospital groups in places like Queens, New York. With assistance from Red Lobster, the program went national.
“It was important to us, we’re giving them something healthy,” Cotter said.
Seafood for Heroes went on to mobilize to provide meals through Red Lobster and other independent restaurants when tornadoes struck in various parts of the country.
Most recently, the group has focused on Ukraine, working to raised money and provide meals via World Food Kitchen, a nonprofit entity that provides meals in humanitarian crisis.
“When any crisis happens, we can be there, preparing great seafood, healthy meals for those in need, for those helping others,” Cotter said.