Every Wednesday, children in Sitka are eating fish harvested and donated by Alaska fisherman. It's part of a special program by the Sitka School District, started from the community's annual health summit.

Sitka community members convene each year to think of ways to improve the health of their residents. Serving locally caught wild salmon and other fish in schools became the goal at the 2010 summit. The program, called 'Fish-to-Schools', relies on several partnerships with the Sitka Conservation Society and local fisherman.

The program's mission is to foster a connection with youth to local seafood resources and local fishing culture by integrating locally caught seafood into the school lunch program. 

"We believe that students should have access to this nutritious, local food that drives our economy and embodies the interconnectedness of our community," according to the Sitka Conservation Society's website.

School chefs prepare a variety of dishes, including baked salmon, fish nuggets, sweet-and-sour rockfish, salmon chowder and more.

"It's just really good for you, while tasting so good," said Eric Jordan, a Sitka fisherman who donates some of his catch to the program.

The fish nuggets are a version of fish and chips. Rolled in corn starch, dipped in fat-free ranch, and rolled in herbed Panko, then baked.

"It retains the moisture and the flavor and the seasonings," said Jo Michalski, executive chef for the Sitka School District.

Strategies like these are encouraged in schools across Alaska to make healthy foods, drinks, and physical activity available to more children. Play Every Day is a campaign by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services to increase awareness about childhood obesity in Alaska.

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