Sea Pearl Seafood Company, Inc. Chosen as USDA Food Bank Participant
October 28, 2020
Several American Shrimp Processors Association / Wild American Shrimp member companies are currently packaging and shipping delicious, wild-caught Gulf and South Atlantic shrimp destined for food banks and drive-thru food pantries across America, including Sea Pearl Seafood Company, Inc. based out of Bayou La Batre, Alabama.
The shrimp are being provided through the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service as part of a $30 million purchase of wild-caught USA shrimp announced by the USDA a few months ago which assists the U.S. shrimp industry while also providing a needed protein source for millions of people who are financially struggling due to the pandemic.
Usage of food banks and drive-through food pantries has risen sharply since the onset of the pandemic. In Texas alone, more than 1 in 10 people are regularly dependent on food banks and charity food programs to feed themselves and their families according to a recent article from KERA News, with organizations such as the San Antonio Food Bank going from feeding 60,000 people a week to doubling that average to 120,000 in a matter of days. Similar statistics can be applied all over the country, where childhood hunger is up more than 460%.
“We’ve never experienced food insecurity at this level since we’ve been tracking the data for the last 20 years,” said Diane Whitemore Schanzenbach, Director of the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University, in a story for KERA News.
The USDA recently awarded contracts under the program to various shrimp processors, including many American Shrimp Processors members who have responded quickly to meet fellow Americans’ needs during these hard times, including Sea Pearl.
These designations also mean that their quality record is so impeccable that Sea Pearl’s products may bear USDC Inspection Marks of U.S. Grade A without having a full-time inspector in their plant.
“The military will only buy 100% Grade A, and as a result of meeting these very high standards, our shrimp go all over the world to the U.S. military,” says Greg Ladnier, Owner and President of the company “Our commercial customers have come to realize and appreciate the quality shrimp that result from these stringent quality guidelines. They also know that they are going to get exactly what we tell them they are getting. We wouldn’t have it any other way.”
This high level of quality has made it comparatively easier for Sea Pearl to work with the USDA to ship shrimp for food banks in this new program since the company was already QMP-certified by the USDC. Thus, Ladnier said that the process for this new food bank program does not differ too much from their regular operations, save for “some extra paperwork.”
Now, the company has plans to ship out 90,000 pounds of seafood on November 3rd, with 30,000 pounds going to Vernon, California, another 30,000 pounds going to Erlanger, Kentucky, and two 15,000-pound loads going to Sinking Springs and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania respectively: all 31 – 50 Peeled & Deveined wild-caught, American shrimp and all going to help food banks feed communities in need.
Greg Ladnier is both proud of the work that Sea Pearl is doing and optimistic about the continued change that this operation can bring about for the American people.
“Hopefully the people enjoy our shrimp, and hopefully the USDA continues the program.”
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