LATHROP – A salmon on every senior’s table.
That’s what Lathrop Vice Mayor Christopher Mateo had in mind when he put a plan into motion that would secure more than a ton of the nutrient-rich fish from a Clements hatchery to distribute to needy seniors and low-income families.
The initial handout last month was a huge success that drew a wide variety of people from throughout the community to the distribution site on Louise Avenue. They went through the entire supply with little advertising or advance notice.
Those that might have missed the first go-around will get their chance again today at 9:30 a.m. at the Lathrop Senior Center.
Each recipient takes home an average of 15 pounds of fish.
“We had a great turnout and that’s what we were hoping for,” Mateo said of the October giveaway. “It’s something that can help the community. That was the whole idea behind this.”
Mateo first announced during a council meeting that he had heard that some Northern California hatcheries turn over the salmon to food banks and non-profits once the eggs of the spawning females have been extracted. It provides an alternative to simply disposing of the fish.
He wanted to throw Lathrop’s hat into the ring.
Within two months he and Mayor Joseph “Chaka” Santos were on their way up to Clements with a team of volunteers to collect the fish, cover them with ice and store them in a cooler in Ripon overnight to keep them fresh before distributing them.
How much longer the fish will be available is unknown. The hatchery – located in Clements on the Mokelumne River – is currently operating at capacity as the annual pacific salmon run is currently in full swing. Once the spawning season is over, the site will be raising the fingerlings that are hatched and will eventually be dumped back out into the water to make the journey back into the Pacific Ocean before venturing back up one of California’s freshwater river arms to start the cycle all over again.
If cut and frozen, the fish can be kept for some time to provide multiple meals to those who come out to get their fill.
“People were emotional when we were out there. It’s a good thing for the city and its residents,” Santos said. “We hope to see that kind of turnout when we do it again.”