News, Fisheries, Safe, Sustainable Seafood

Washington Sea Grant Provides a Food Security Rapid-Response to Tribal Communities During Pandemic


The pandemic revealed acute food insecurity, health risks, and economic vulnerabilities in fishing communities in Washington State, particularly amongst Washington tribal nations who grappled with these challenges in addition to direct COVID-related impacts that included outbreaks, quarantines, closures and delayed harvests.

 Washington Sea Grant initiated two pilot demonstration projects for the Makah and Lummi Tribes, to swiftly deliver food security and extension services while building resilient marine food systems within these coastal communities for future catastrophic events. They coordinated a seafood preservation toolkit and food-share system, conceived as a demonstration model to build household-scale capacity to safely process, store, and distribute traditional subsistence foods; and created a training package for fishing entrepreneurs to provide necessary skills, certifications, and information to access new markets.

With Sea Grant assistance, the Makah carried out an elk harvest, packaged into 150 pounds of burger, built an inventory of food processing and storage tools, and created a First Foods program through a seniors program. The Lummi created a plan of action, which resulted in partnership-building and identified priority needs. These accomplishments improved food security and formed new partnerships across tribal departments for improved resiliency into the future.

Photo of Makah Indian Reservation, on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington.