More than 90,000 pounds of canned wild Alaska pink salmon arrived in Ukraine in early February, donated by the state of Alaska to help feed and support people displaced by the war with Russia.

The Alaska State Legislature and Gov. Mike Dunleavy committed $300,000 in the state budget to buy the salmon, and tasked the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute to source, procure, and coordinate the shipment and delivery.

Chosen as a nutritious and shelf-stable food to the region, the salmon donation was coordinated through ASMI’s Global Food Aid Program and its network of food and nutrition organizations.  working in the humanitarian space.

The shipment came together as three full containers totaling over 90,000 pounds of pink salmon.

Given the uncertain conditions in the region, ASMI partnered with World Central Kitchen, one of the few organizations cooking meals and distributing food in war zones in Ukraine and able to accept such a donation. Established by chef José Andrés, World Central Kitchen responds to humanitarian emergencies around the world and is one of the few groups able to deliver meals and distribute food in the Ukraine war zones.

“Following an established procurement process, the contract to provide the product was awarded to OBI Seafoods,” according to an ASMI statement. “OBI applied custom labels created by ASMI and, in all manner, readied the 3,840 cases (24 cans of 14.75 oz each) for shipment to Ukraine. ASMI worked with Maersk Shipping and their special operations section who made the very complicated shipping process as easy and uncomplicated as possible.”

The salmon arrived in Gdansk, Poland, in early November after a typical shipping time of about six weeks, according to ASMI. Due to new international agreements and customs requirements that came into effect during the travel time to Poland, the containers remained in the Port of Gdansk until they were finally released from Polish customs on  Jan. 30 for transport to Lviv, Ukraine, by truck.

World Central Kitchen’s local partner inside the borders of Ukraine met and unloaded the containers in late January, readying them for further transport within Ukraine to locations in greatest need.

The salmon is “a perfect product for direct, family distribution for at-home use,” according to ASMI. “Each of these 92,000- plus cans has a six-year shelf life, needs no refrigeration to store (unopened), cannot be affected by cold, heat or rain. It is ready to eat directly from the can, and provides high quality protein and healthy fats with no need for cooking or potable water to use. Of course, it is easily combinable with local ingredients that may be available for a tasty meal.”

“It is the middle of winter in Ukraine with freezing temperatures compounding the need for humanitarian aid as the invasion continues. The arrival of this food is timely, providing the refugees and displaced people of all ages in Ukraine with over 460,000 meals of nutritious wild Alaska protein.

“We thank the State of Alaska, its Legislature and Governor for their foresight in making this donation possible. We hope to provide additional updates once the salmon has made its way to other locations in Ukraine.”

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