In 2010, Todd Bluechel founded and funded Fish. Food. Feel Good. (F3G) to collect unwanted excess fish from sportfishing fleets and donate it to charities that feed people in need. Since its inception, F3G has donated more than 150,000 free meals to seven charities, including Father Joe’s Village of San Diego, the San Diego Food Bank and Meals-on-Wheels.
The idea came to Bluechel in 2008 after watching Robert Redford’s film “Lions for Lambs.”
“What I took from the movie was everybody needs to do something for the greater good, outside of their own little world to help others,” Bluechel said.
He didn’t want to simply donate money or old clothes, so he decided to start something that wasn’t being done before.
Growing up around boats and San Diego’s sport fishing industry, Bluechel knew San Diego has one of the best fishing fleets in the country. He also knew there were hungry people who needed help. Since sport-fishing fleets account for less than
1 percent of the total catch, F3G is able to help feed people without contributing to the problem of overfishing.
“I wanted to create a transparent, very legal way to collect the fish from the sportfishermen and give it to those who need it,” he said.
Since each person is allowed to keep 20 fish per day, Bluechel said there is often unwanted catch. Individual fishermen have donated unwanted fish to charities in the past, but F3G eliminates the obstacles by allowing fishermen to donate their fish at the processing facilities on the docks. Once the fish are donated, F3G takes care of the rest.
“I’ve often found the simpler you make something, the more likely people are to use it,” Bluechel said. “I’ve not met one fisherman who isn’t ecstatic about the process and the program because it’s a great thing to catch a fish and be able to serve it as a meal, let alone be able to give that meal to someone who needs it.”
Bluechel eventually hopes to replicate F3G across the nation with the goal of providing 1 million free meals annually.
After three years of feeding those in need, Bluechel said he credits much of the organization’s success to the fishermen themselves.
“Without them, I couldn’t do it. Without their generosity, I couldn’t do it,” Bluechel said.
In August, F3G will host a one-and-a-half-day fishing trip to raise money for the organization locally and to help fund its expansion.
To donate and learn more about F3G, visit www.f3g.org.