Fishadelphia: A Great Catch

An innovative community seafood program run by South Philly high school students is making a splash.

Did you know that you can support small businesses and help young people gain entrepreneurial skills while eating delicious, locally-caught seafood? Fishadelphia, a community seafood program based in Philadelphia, does just that.

Most people are familiar with the CSA (community-supported agriculture) system, which connects farms directly to consumers. Similarly, Fishadelphia connects small New Jersey fisheries to buyers, shortening the supply chain and delivering the freshest product.

Fishadelphia emerged as a pilot project by Dr. Talia Young when she was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University. She had attended a local seafood conference and was surprised when a fisherman remarked that Americans only eat cod and salmon fillets. Realizing that there is a demand for a wider variety of seafood particularly among culturally diverse urban communities, Young said that she wanted to “provide new markets for local seafood harvesters and also provide high quality seafood to people who don’t normally have access to it.” 

Prior to her PhD studies, Young taught science at Mastery Charter Thomas Campus in South Philadelphia. She was very interested in finding a way to combine her love of environmental education with this new business venture. She approached school leadership with a proposal to start an afterschool program. She was able to obtain a generous grant from the USDA and Fishadelphia was officially launched in February 2018.

Fishadelphia is open to high school students from the Thomas Campus in South Philadelphia and Mastery Simon Gratz in North Philadelphia who want to learn more about seafood and how to run a business. Students meet weekly with guidance from adult coordinators and receive compensation for their work from grant funding. Read more about South Philly student team members.

Until recently, students would do more hands-on work, preparing the seafood shares, greeting customers, and selling merchandise. Due to coronavirus safety concerns, students are working remotely, mostly on social media and logistics. Young remarked that the diversity of the student population of both schools allows the program to “tap into the communities that we wouldn’t be able to reach.” 

You can sign up for Fishadelphia on their website. There are two seasons, spring and fall, which run for 8 weeks with biweekly deliveries to almost a dozen pickup locations across the city. The current season, which was delayed due to the pandemic, has two more pickups on July 24 and August 7. Young anticipates that the fall season will start in September. 

Fish can be picked up at three South Philadelphia locations:

  • Bella Vista (near 9th & Bainbridge): alternating Fridays 5-8pm

  • East Passyunk (near 12th & Wharton): alternating Fridays 5-8pm

  • Central South Philly (near Broad & Morris): alternating Fridays 3:30-7pm

The season costs $160 ($20/week) for Blue Club (whole fish), $176 ($22/week) for Orange Club (fillets), and $88 ($22/week) for Purple Club (finfish fillets). According to their website, advance payment is encouraged. “We ask that you pay in advance for the whole season if you are able to do so, but we can be flexible if you need to pay in smaller increments.” If you sign up mid-season, costs are prorated accordingly.

Customers with a student enrolled at Mastery Thomas or Simon Gratz, SNAP or Medicaid eligible, or referred by another community discount customer may qualify for community discounts.

For more information on Fishadelphia, check out their website, Facebook and Instagram.