PEORIA, IL – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and partner Feeding Illinois is hosting hundreds of children, adults and families who will experience how delicious Asian carp can be if prepared simply and correctly during an event at South Side Mission in Peoria this afternoon. The event is the second of many ‘Target Hunger Now!’ programs showcasing Asian carp throughout Illinois.
“‘The Target Hunger Now!’ program has already served more than 2,200 meals to people in need and the response has been very positive,” said IDNR Director Marc Miller. “Asian carp are healthful, they are tasty, and we have a responsibility to bring this protein rich resource to those who need it most.”
The ‘Target Hunger Now!’ program is using the culinary skills and recipes of famed Baton Rouge, Louisiana chef Philippe Parola to highlight delicious ways of preparing Asian carp during the luncheon event at South Side Mission. Chef Parola is using Asian carp to prepare easy-to-make and delicious baked fish fillets for adults and families.
“Fish translate to food, that’s the bottom line,” said Chef Parola. “If other fish species like orange roughy and sea bass have gone from rags to riches, then there is no reason why Asian carp can’t find success on the plates of Americans everywhere.”
Asian carp is a popular fish to eat in European and Asian markets. Unlike native, bottom-feeding carp in the U.S., Asian carp is a cleaner fish that feeds on plankton and algae in the upper water columns of rivers. The event is intended to change the reputation of Asian carp by demonstrating that it can easily be used to make healthy, flavorful meals.
Participants in the event include the IDNR ‘Target Hunger Now!’ program, Feeding Illinois (formerly the Illinois Food Bank Association), the Peoria Area Foodbank and Illinois American Water.
“Illinois American Water supports the ‘Target Hunger Now!’ program because it meets so many of our community needs; it helps to provide for the hungry, protect our precious water sources and safeguard recreational waterways,” said Illinois American Water President Karla Olson Teasley.
“In a time when food pantries are seeing less on their shelves it is exciting to see new ideas to bring nutritious food to our state. I am looking forward to this program becoming a successful way to get much needed protein to those experiencing hunger,” said Barb Shreves, Executive Director of Peoria Area Food Bank.
‘Target Hunger Now!’ is the IDNR-managed humanitarian effort that accepts donations of Asian carp and hunter-harvested deer for processing and distribution to food banks and charitable organizations throughout Illinois.
‘Target Hunger Now!’ has already hosted successful events in several communities throughout Illinois. Using donated deer meat as the primary protein food source, delicious venison tacos were served to more than 2,000 children and families during the past year.
“Feeding Illinois and our corporate partners are proud to be participating in this innovative program to encourage hunters and anglers to donate deer and Asian carp for processing into healthy, ready-to-serve meals,” said Feeding Illinois State Director Tracy Smith. “This effort will feed those most in need and lessens the Asian carp threat to our waterways.
The IDNR is working on a variety of fronts with the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee to eradicate the threat posed by non-native Asian carp and prevent them from establishing a population in the Great Lakes.
Over the past two years, efforts by the Illinois DNR, through contracts with Illinois commercial fishermen, have netted the removal of over 415 tons of bighead and silver Asian carp from the Illinois River.