Despite the fact that carp has never achieved great popularity in the United States, the fish that is a main part of the diet in Europe and Asia is helping to feed Utah's low-income families.

Crossroads Urban Center and the New Hope Multi-cultural Center are co-sponsors of a project that makes the huge quantities of carp in Utah waters available to anyone - but particularly low-income families - at a reasonable cost.During the warm months, staff and project participants catch the carp in local waters. In winter, they buy it from a commercial fisherman on Utah Lake. Then the fish are transported to several holding pools in the Salt Lake Valley, where they are held for a week or two before distribution to families that join the fish co-op.

Each small holding pool (12 feet in diameter) is equipped with aeration and biofiltration devices and holds up to 500 fish. The fish are put in the pools to improve their flavor by removing "muddy flavors" in the skin through clean water placement and to allow sustained distribution over an extended period of time.

"Last year, we served about 90 families every quarter," said Nick Hershenow of Crossroads Urban Center. "We distributed more than 4,000 pounds of fish."

Hershenow said that anyone can buy fish through the co-op, "but we strongly hint to people who aren't low income that they ought to pay a little more for it."

Crossroads and New Hope are jointly sponsoring a grand opening of the Hew Hope Center Fish Pool Nov. 5 from noon to 2 p.m. at 1102 W. Fourth North. The public is invited to see the project in action and sample dishes prepared from carp.