Foundation has thirty charities on its ‘fish list’
A man’s love for fishing has grown into a foundation that delivers fish to 30 charitable institutions every month.
Known as the St Peter Foundation, the organisation is now planning to build its own fish storage facilities on land donated in 2008.
“As a fishing enthusiast I used to share my catch with friends and relatives but, one day, some 13 years ago, I was speaking with a friend of mine, Charles Azzopardi – who is also a fish enthusiast and a fish trader – about distributing fish portions to charities that run on tight budgets and cannot afford to buy fish. He liked the idea, so we decided to give it a go,” Notary Tonio Spiteri said.
A survey among 169 charitable institutions carried out by Church organ Discern confirmed their concern that fish was a commodity not affordable to all.
The foundation was officially set up by a small group of fishing amateurs on June 29, 2004, the day when the island celebrates the feast of St Peter and St Paul. Since then, it never looked back and by the end of last year it had distributed a staggering 31 tonnes – or 192,000 portions – of fish among 30 institutions.
“We raise money through donations and fund-raising events but if these institutions were given money to buy fish themselves they would get a third of the amount of fish that the organisation provides because Charles, of Azzopardi Fisheries, provides fish at cost price and even offers packaging and distribution services for free,” Dr Spiteri explained.
The foundation places an order of fish at Azzopardi Fisheries every month, according to the needs of the beneficiaries.
Charities that receive their monthly fish consignment include Id-Dar tal-Providenza in Siġġiewi, several children’s homes like the Ursuline Crèche at Guardamangia and St Joseph Home at Santa Venera, old people’s homes, including the Apap Institute in Ħamrun, three homes run by Caritas, Dar Merħba Bik in Balzan and the Sisters of Mother Theresa in Cospicua.
The portions of fish distributed among institutions last year
Sr Agnes Azzopardi, from the Good Shepherd Centre in Balzan, believes that were it not for such donations, the 150 people that seek refuge at the centre would not afford to include fish in their diet.
Dar Merħba Bik coordinator Pamela Cuschieri said the 13 women residing at the house were taught to follow a healthy regime and the donated fish portions allowed mothers to cook fish at least once a week.
Throughout the past few years, the St Peter Foundation has continued to grow and its board of trustees now represents all sectors of the Maltese fishing industry: fish wholesalers, retailers and middlemen, the Fisheries Conservation and Control Division, leading cooperatives, the aquaculture producers’ association and the federation of leisure fishermen.
And, apart from helping various charities, the foundation now also plans to help fishermen in a commercial way by purchasing excess stocks of fish when there is an abundance, which it could store to ensure a continuous distribution all year round.
“In fact, our next project is building cold storage facilities to be able to organise better our storage and distribution system. Having our own premises would triple our fish supply,” Dr Spiteri said, adding that the foundation was waiting for building permits it applied for after it was given a sizable plot of land some four years ago. The foundation generates part of its income through moneybox collections in legal offices and retail outlets. Since it was customary not to charge clients for minor services like general legal advice and copies of documents, clients were encouraged to make a small contribution, Dr Spiteri explained.
Another source of income is fish festivals held in coastal villages across the island every year.
Dr Spiteri can be contacted on 2149 1856/2144 1076 or via [email protected].