by Allen Martin and Jennifer Mistrot
SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 37 million Americans don’t have enough to eat. Living in a household with food insecurity can be even tougher in an expensive place like the Bay Area.
So, when commerical fisherman Giuseppe Pennisi wanted to find a way to provide meals for his community, he went to sea, happy to share his catch with those in need. Using his own specially-designed nets, Pennisi has set sail for days at a time with one goal in mind.
“I put the net through the school and then I wait 15 minutes and then I back off,” explained Pennisi. “And it’s funny, okay we have got Glide’s order.”
Pennisi, whose grandfather came from Italy to fish Monterey Bay, was talking about his catch for San Francisco’s Glide Memorial Church.
For the past three years, every other week, Pennisi and his crew have caught, hauled and delivered 2,500 pounds of fresh fish to Glide’s kitchen for free. Church staff like Hilary Disch admit they were a little skeptical when Pennisi, the owner of Pioneer Seafoods, first called to offer the free fish.
“I was the first person to answer his phone call, “said Disch, who is a Development Associate and Digital Community employee at Glide. “We couldn’t believe it. He just wanted to give us thousands of pounds of the best fish in the Bay.”
Pennisi used to clean all the fish he delivered to Glide himself, an exhausting task after spending days at sea. Now volunteers show up to clean the fish, and grateful people flock into the dining room to enjoy his generosity.
“Whenever we show up with the truck, people come from all over and they are thanking us for the fish,” said Pennisi. “They say it is the best fish they have ever had.”
Pennisi gives credit to his parents for his generous nature. As a young boy, he would help deliver his father’s donated catch to a religious community along the Big Sur coast south of Monterey.
“And you would hear the nun in the back go ‘Bless you, bless you, Thank you’,” recalled Pennisi.
Those memories keep Pennisi heading out to sea with Glide at the top of his catch list.
“It almost looks like it rains when they come down,” said Pennisi of the fish he catches. “So as I am watching I try to predict what I am going to do and I try to pick out a school or two for Glide church.”