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Preparations for first fish fry of lent underway in many La. schools, churches

There are more than 50 churches, schools and organizations in Southeast Louisiana that host a fish fry every Friday during lent.

NEW ORLEANS — More than 50 churches, schools and organizations in Southeast Louisiana plan to host a fish fry every Friday during lent and many of them will start this Friday.

There's a lot of preparation involved to get everything ready.

Barbara Hornsby heads the weekly Lenten fish fry at St. Gabriel Archangel Church in Gentilly Woods. She's preparing to serve 900 plates of fried or baked fish with sides and desserts every Friday for $12 dollars during Lent.

The preparation includes thawing 300 pounds of fish.

"This is all the fish that’s already been thawed," Hornsby said, showing a cooler full of fish.

They get the sides ready before fish fry Friday when they will fry and bake the fish on site.

"Fish is not until tomorrow. The only thing that’s today is the macaroni is prepped, the bread pudding is prepped," Hornsby said.

Before the fish ever makes it to a church, school or restaurant, it comes from a processor and distributor. Benny Miller owns Louisiana Seafood Exchange.

"The fresh fish comes in, we bring it in here, the customers order it, it gets cut per order," Miller said.

His team processes anywhere from 2,000 to 8,000 pounds of fish a day.

"This time of year were on the higher end of it," Miller said.

March and April are his busiest months.

"It is a really busy season for us. The good thing this time of year is we also see an abundance of seafood and another good thing about this year is the prices are relatively the same if not a little cheaper on the wholesale level since last year. Some of the stuff has leveled out since COVID so were looking really good," he said.

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