Earlier today, alumnus Alan Lovewell MAIEP ’10 and his company Real Good Fish accepted a $100,000 check from Chase Bank after his company was one of 20 to beat out 30,000 other applicants to win a grant supporting their unique initiative aimed at providing healthy, popular lunches for public school students using local seafood.
Growing up on Martha’s Vineyard, the ocean was always a big part of Alan’s life, and early on he formed meaningful relationships with the local fishermen who supplied his family with seafood. Those connections would stay with him as he moved across the country to the Pacific coast. As a student in the Institute’s International Environmental Policy program, Alan was saddened to learn that most locals consumed fish imported from China and that local fishermen, despite a rich fishing heritage, were having a hard time earning a living. In an effort to address these issues, he co-founded Real Good Fish, a member-supported fishery connecting local consumers directly with fresh, sustainable catch.
From humble beginnings with 146 members in 2012, Real Good Fish has grown to over 1,000 members today and now offers an expanded service area that covers the entire San Francisco Bay Area. Early in the process of growing the business, Alan and his team discovered that fishermen were not finding a market for a large portion of their catch. Most of them fish for black cod, but catch up to 100,000 pounds per year of other species that they have traditionally discarded because no one would buy them. “That’s a huge inefficiency,” says Alan, who found that many of the fish being thrown away were actually very tasty, as well as nutritious.
Real Good Fish then partnered with the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District to set up a program called Bay2Tray. They essentially addressed two stubborn problems at once, by creating a market for the “unmarketable” fish and providing school children with affordable and healthy proteins for the lunches. The fish tacos and other meals made possible through this program are very popular among students, often outselling school lunch staples such as pizza.
The $100,000 check Alan accepted from Chase Bank today as a result of winning the highly competitive 2015 CHASE Mission Main Street Grant will help Real Good Fish expand this program further. “We feel incredibly lucky and grateful for being a recipient of the Chase Mission Main St. Grant,” says Alan. “This recognition means a lot to our business and our community.”