On July 5th, HIP Ag traveled to the capitol in Honolulu to meet with legislators, DOE food service, nonprofit organizations, and local food producers to celebrate the revolutionary work of the Aina Pono Farm to School Program. The program’s focus is to bring farm fresh and local foods into Hawaii’s schools. As the logo symbolizes, the program brings local agriculture into school cafeterias, and in the process, educates students and school administrators about the taste and value of fresh, locally-grown food versus processed food. HIP Ag has been a part of the pilot ‘Aina Pono Farm to School program since 2015, in partnership with The Kohala Center and the Kohala Complex. We are happy to share that HIP Ag has contributed loads of bananas, papaya, citrus, lettuce, lau leaf, and carrots over the past year to the Kohala Complex. We were proud to celebrate Priscilla Galan, School Food Service Manager and Kohala High School Principal Janette Snelling as they were recognized and awarded for their trailblazing work sourcing locally and developing seasonal menus that both reflect the abundance of variety in our community and have been well-received by our students.
We arrived in Honolulu with over 50 lbs of farm fresh fruit and starch crops to share. One of our main objectives in supporting the F2S program is to get more locally grown foods into the state-wide approved menus. The locally grown food we highlighted for this occasion was cocoyams. Cocoyams, also called Malanga, is a nutritious starch crop that is a kalo relative. We were pleasantly surprised as DOE food service employees, legislators, policymakers, and peers flocked to our table to sample our mashed cocoyams served on carrot slices. We were able to share our belief and hope that this highly nutritious (and easy to cultivate) tropical crop has the potential to replace large-scale imports of traditional white potatoes. This fall we will be working with the DOE food service to support them incorporating cocoyams into their menus. Our booth visitors also enjoyed our Thai namwa bananas and non-GMO exotica papayas.
HIP Ag is actively looking for local partners to create a hui of farms in North Kohala to source from as we develop the distribution model for providing seasonal produce to our schools. The time is now for Kohala growers to collaborate and contribute to our children’s health and education through the ‘Aina Pono F2S program. If interested in working with us, please connect with us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Mahalo to our amazing, agriculturally focused and health conscious community.