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Local Farming and Food Production

The Way It Is

  • 85-90% of food is imported to Hawaii—food security a serious hazard if air transit is disrupted

  • 1500 agriculture jobs in 2009 (A&B had 900 jobs)

  • 225,568 acres of ag land on Maui (26% prime, 45% productive, 28% low)

  • A&B has 27,000 acres designated as agricultural land 9,000 acres for development

  • 87% of Maui farms less than 50 acres  (75% have revenue less than $25k, 2002)

  • Maui leads state in vegetable production with great capacity to improve

  • Maui’s highest profit yielding agriculture is GMO seed corn from Monsanto

  • Since 1996, 2,600 acres converted from ag use to development


What we can do about it

  • Promote the Hawaii State Constitution “The State shall conserve and protect agricultural lands, promote diversified agriculture, increase agricultural self-sufficiency, and assure the availability of agriculturally suitable lands” Article X1, Section 3. Create a Maui County Department of Agriculture to enforce.

  • Provide grants and subsidies to restore the soil destroyed by sugar cane and pineapple production, provide infrastructure, education programs, and insurance support.

  • Protect Important Prime, and Productive ag land from commercial development

  • Permanent protection of water rights for Prime, and Productive ag land

  • Expand Agricultural Parks program to provide low cost farmland; review process for renting ag land to local farmers

  • Strategically invest in infrastructure development and energy crops

  • Develop processing, packaging, and distribution “food hubs”

  • Support farmers to get food certifications for School Lunch

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  • For over 1,000 years, the Hawaiian people produced enough food to support an estimated population of one million. Today, 85 to 90 percent of Hawaii’s food is imported. And if current trends continue, Hawaii’s last agricultural lands will be gone by 2040, according to the Hawaii Farmers Union. Can Hawaii change course in time? Hawaii’s farmers say “yes.”

  • Often such initiatives have been below the radar and thus overlooked by public officials. The focus of agriculture policy is usually on land use, water allocation, and export markets while public health policy focuses on hunger, food insecurity, and food access. The entire food system as a whole is rarely considered in a comprehensive fashion.

Now Governor David Ige has set a bold new vision stating that food production for local markets should be doubled in four years. This is welcome news to a state that is the most geographically isolated population center in the world, some 2,500 miles from the North American continent, and that imports about 85% of its food, at a cost of $6.8 billion per year.

Yet many farmers do not view doubling food production as a practical goal given current economic constraints. Moreover, attempting such rapid progress means depending heavily on outside investors and expertise, mirroring plantation investment patterns. The impact of the Governor’s call is also limited unless it pays close attention to building food systems, not simply increasing production. If these new firms are to survive over the long term, supportive infrastructure is required, and loyalties must be built among consumers.

  • A Rocky Mountain Institute study estimated the import share of food in the County of Hawai‘i at 85% (Page et al. 2007). Likewise, popular food system analyst, Ken Meter, estimated that more than 90% of Hawai‘i’s food is imported (Halweil 2004). Later, the Ulupono Initiative estimated that Hawai‘i consumers spend only 8% of their food budget on locally grown food, while spending the rest on imports (Ulupono Initiative 2011). Then, the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo produced a Hawai‘i Island food self-sufficiency scorecard that estimated the percentage of locally produced food consumed by commodity group, ranging from 0% for grains to 95% for fresh milk (Melrose and Delparte 2012). Recently, the state planning office, in a report on “increased food security and food self-sufficiency strategy,” noted that 85–90% of Hawai‘i’s food is imported (OP-DBEDT 2012). These estimates have been widely cited despite lingering questions about and critiques of their methodologies and estimated parameters.

  • Much of Hawai‘i’s food production for local consumption has now been displaced by imported foods. This has raised alarm in many quarters. In 2012 in the Hawai‘i State House’s self-sufficiency bill, HB2703 HD2, said Hawai‘i is dangerously dependent on imported food:

“As the most geographically isolated state in the country, Hawaii imports approximately ninety-two percent of its food, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Currently, Hawaii has a supply of fresh produce for no more than ten days. Ninety percent of the beef, sixty- seven percent of the fresh vegetables, sixty- five percent of the fresh fruits, and eighty percent of all milk purchased in the State are imported. The legislature further finds that Hawaii’s reliance on out-of-state sources of food places residents directly at risk of food shortages in the event of natural disasters, economic disruption, and other external factors beyond the State’s control.” (Hawai‘i State Legislature 2012)

  • Most analysts agree that Hawai‘i currently imports 85 percent or more of its food from the US mainland and from other countries (Leung and Loke 2008; Page et al. 2007).

  • The world’s most isolated chain of islands, Hawaii imports nearly 90 percent of its food at a cost of more than $3 billion a year.

There’s a high environmental price to be paid for relying on a 747 or 40,000-ton ship as your food truck. The largest cargo vessels can emit as much pollution as 50 million cars in a year, according to a 2009 study, and shipping accounts for about 4 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Just consider the carbon footprint of putting a Hawaiian steak on local plates: Tens of thousands of calves are raised on the Big Island of Hawaii every year and then loaded on barges to the mainland. There they’re fattened, slaughtered, shrink-wrapped, and shipped back across the Pacific to the islands. Meanwhile, pests and parasites that hitch a ride on this nonstop caravan of cargo ships are decimating Hawaiian wildlife, forests, and farm fields at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

But if the status quo is bad, what happens if the ships stop coming could be far worse.

  • Britain and other European governments have been accused of underestimating the health risks from shipping pollution following research which shows that one giant container ship can emit almost the same amount of cancer and asthma-causing chemicals as 50m cars.

The calculations of ship and car pollution are based on the world’s largest 85,790KW ships’ diesel engines which operate about 280 days a year generating roughly 5,200 tonnes of SOx a year, compared with diesel and petrol cars which drive 15,000km a year and emit approximately 101gm of SO2/SoX a year.

There are 90,000 ocean-going cargo ships

  • The state government administers the hundreds of millions of dollars that come into the state each year for federally funded nutrition programs such as school meals, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP; formerly Food Stamps), and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, commonly known as WIC. However, apart from that, the state has not addressed the problem of poverty- based food insecurity. It has taken little notice of the data on food insecurity in Hawai‘i that are provided each year by the US Department of Agriculture. The Hawai‘i Department of Health used to include food- security questions in its annual health survey, but it no longer does, and it has not updated its 2001 study on Hunger and Food Insecurity in Hawai‘i. Poverty- based food insecurity in Hawai‘i is not high by global standards, but it exists, and it contradicts the image the state tries to portray of the quality of life in the islands. Hawai‘i does not provide a strong safety net for all of its people. State officials may feel that the coverage by federally funded programs such as SNAP and WIC, together with the work of the nongovernmental organizations, is enough to meet the needs. However, there is a need to determine whether that is so and to consider what should be done for those who fall through the cracks.

1500 agriculture jobs in 2009 (A&B had 900 jobs)

  • The self-sufficiency bill (Hawai‘i State Legislature 2012) raised the import replacement argument: “The legislature further finds that each food product imported to Hawaii is a lost opportunity for local economic growth. The legislature notes that according to the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, an increase in the production and sale of Hawaii-grown agricultural commodities would contribute to significant job creation. The research shows that replacing ten percent of current food imports will create a total of two thousand three hundred jobs.”

  • The seed industry today is Hawaii’s largest single agricultural activity, more than one-third of the statewide total, comprising about one-half billion dollars in total economic impact and at least 2,800 jobs statewide including multiplier effects.

225,568 acres of ag land on Maui (26% prime, 45% productive, 28% low)

  • How much Hawaii ag land is out there?

Total land acreage for the state: 4,112,388 
Total acreage of lands used for agriculture (statewide): 1,930,224

Hawaii Island: 1,214,040
Maui: 244,088
Molokai: 111,627
Lanai: 46,639
Oahu: 128,810
Kauai: 139,320
Niihau: 45,700

(From the State of Hawaii Data Book for 2009)

A&B has 27,000 acres designated as agricultural land  9,000 acres for development

  • Of the total acreage, 27,000 acres carry the designation of important agricultural lands, but A&B’s sugar plantation was 36,000 acres in 2016 at the time of its shuttering

87% of Maui farms less than 50 acres  (75% have revenue  less than $25k, 2002)

  • About 92 percent of Hawaii’s farms are less than 100 acres. In 2012, 4 percent of the farms had annual sales of under $10,000. The net farm income in 2012 was estimated at $329,964 (USDA 2014), which means the 7,000 farms had an average income of $47,138. The income levels for small farms were much lower than this average (Gomes 2011; USDA 2014). Much of the farm revenue is for nonfood products such as seeds and ornamentals and for exports.

  • Our research shows that low-income residents face a unique quandary in Hawai‘i: while workers have the lowest average income in the US, Hawai‘i is one of the most expensive states to live in. In particular, food costs are 61% higher than in the rest of the US.

  • Yet concerns linger about who will benefit the most from these efforts, since these rely upon outside capital, technologies, and expertise. Some see echoes of the plantation industry in the state’s quest to find a third party that will develop a food industry, rather than growing one from within. The history of plantation agriculture also limits the state’s options, since significant food infrastructure is lacking. As Enright pointed out: “We don’t have a rich history of family farms in this state.” This means an absence of storage, distribution, and marketing facilities geared to internal food trade.

  • Yet a healthy food system involves both large and small-scale players — and the only food system on Hawai‘i that reliably fed up to one million residents was the traditional food system.

Maui leads state in vegetable production with great capacity to improve

  • Fresh Vegetables: Products in this group include leafy and non-leafy greens, sweet corn, tubers (ginger root, potatoes, and taro), and specialty greens that are both grown locally and imported. Net fresh vegetable supplies from all sources totaled 124 thousand tonnes in 2010. Local production is 30% of total market requirement, and the state is dependent on imports for the remaining 70%, mainly from the continental United States. The market supply in 2010 is about 56% higher than the 79.4 thousand tonnes recorded in 1980.

  • Fresh Fruits: Products in this group include tropical fruits grown locally (bananas, guavas, papayas, pineapples, watermelons, etc.) and imported fruits (apples, citrus fruits, berries, stone fruits, etc.). Net fresh fruit supplies from all sources totaled 98 thousand tonnes in 2010. Local production is 38% of total market requirement, and the state is dependent on imports for the remaining 62%, mainly from the continental United States. The market supply in 2010 is about 2.6 times the equivalent measure of 36.9 thousand tonnes recorded in 1980.

  • Seafood supplies are sourced primarily from local and foreign imports. Collectively, local landings, aquaculture, and noncommercial catch make up 51% of total available seafood supply in Hawai‘i. Foreign imports account for 44%, and imports from the continental United States fill the remaining 5% (Loke et al. 2012). According to the U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), the leading direct foreign sources of seafood imports by weight were from Taiwan, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines, and the Marshall Islands.

  • Other proteins: Products in this group include red meat (beef, veal, pork, Local production is 9.3% of total market requirement, and the state is dependent on imports for the remaining 90.7%, mainly from the continental United States and lamb), poultry (chicken, duck, and turkey), and nuts that are produced locally and imported. In 2010, net supplies from all sources totaled 101 thousand tonnes for this food group.. The Hawai‘i market supply level in 2010 is about 37% higher than the 73.9 thousand tonnes in 1980.

  • Fresh Milk: As recently as the early 1980s, Hawai‘i produced all fresh milk (dairy) that was consumed in the state. This was a startling achievement, considering only 24.4% market supply was sourced locally in the 1930s. Since then, a host of less favorable economic circumstances has turned against the industry, wiping out all commercial dairy farms on the island of Oahu, and leaving only two on the island of Hawai‘i. In 2010, local production supplied 12.4% of total fresh milk available in the local market. In other words, Hawai‘i is 87.6% dependent on fresh milk imports from outside sources (continental United States).

  • Rice: In the conclusion of his 1937 publication, H.H. Warner identified rice as the single most important food item that Hawai‘i imports from the outside world. During that period in history, the Territory of Hawai‘i produced only 4.1% of its total rice requirement, and was increasingly threatened by lower cost, mechanized producers in California. Per capita consumption of rice in Hawai‘i then was reportedly 40 times higher than in the United States. Today, there is no known commercial production of rice in Hawai‘i. We are totally dependent on imports, particularly from the continental United States. About 6% of the total requirement is foreign imports, mainly specialty rice from Thailand. Over time, per capita consumption of rice in Hawai‘i declined to an estimated 27.9 kilograms in 2010 from 34.3 kilograms in the mid-1970sf. This measure is now only three times more than the 9.6 kilograms per capita consumption in the overall United States.

  • Across the United States, communities are working determinedly to build food security among lowincome communities and to increase the resiliency of local food systems…

… This movement has been very strong in Hawai‘i as well. While the overall concerns are not unlike those faced across the US, Hawai‘i has been more proactive than most states because civic leaders have recognized that the state is especially vulnerable. Located more than 2,500 miles from its food supply, and deeply dependent on ocean and air transport, Hawai‘i has taken steps to produce more food close to home. Many farms began striving to sell to local markets decades ago, and multiple state initiatives have established access to, and protection for, land, water, and other natural resources.  

… Yet it is important to note that agricultural production is not always the same as food production, and is certainly not correlated with food access or healthy food consumption by area residents. Indeed, Hawai‘i’s commercial agriculture industry has strongly tended towards the export of cash crops.

Maui’s  most valuable agricultural export is GMO seed corn from Monsanto

  • Many people are concerned about the impacts of genetic modification of food products, especially the economic impacts at the primary production end and the health impacts at the consumption end. A large portion of Hawai‘i’s agricultural land is devoted to research on seeds for genetically modified products (Conrow 2009).

  • Much of the farm revenue is for nonfood products such as seeds and ornamentals and for exports. Hawai‘i’s farm revenue attributable to food consumed within the state is about $400 million per year. Hawai‘i’s total food imports are roughly $2 billion per year. On this basis, Hawai‘i farms produce roughly 20 percent of the state’s food supply, in terms of monetary value. Probably about 80 percent of the imports are from the US mainland. A substantial share of the food produced and consumed in Hawai‘i goes to military families and tourists. Perhaps that share should be excluded from calculations about the degree to which local agriculture contributes to local food self-sufficiency

  • Some local food production operations are owned by outsiders. Their products may be sold and consumed locally, but if the profits go elsewhere, and control of these operations also is based elsewhere, it is not clear that these operations really contribute to local self-sufficiency.

  • (October 2014) Essentially all modern crops are genetically modified organisms, like the popular low-acid Maui Gold pineapple, Maui sugarcane, and modern maize (corn) varieties.


Since 1996, 2,600 acres converted from ag use to development

  • Agricultural lands are a necessary link to self-sufficiency and a diverse economy. In addition, the agricultural landscape contributes to our sense of place and is a part of our island heritage. The island’s small towns are a treasure to be protected. Residents also desire clean, safe, and livable urban environments that provide a high quality of life.

  • Because purchasing decisions were made off the Islands, plantation agriculture was itself vulnerable to global market pressures. The industry would not have survived without public intervention. Nonetheless, pineapple production diminished immediately after statehood, as lower-cost producers emerged in Asia and Central America. Sugar production began to decline just a few years later, as landowners found greater opportunity in selling land for housing and tourism development. Plantations had certainly created wealth for a ruling elite, but this form of agriculture often brought negative impacts: concentrated economic and political power, environmental harms, and a lack of attention to ensuring that Hawai‘i produced food for itself. Moreover, by importing laborers and paying low wages, the plantation created a permanent underclass. Although unions subsequently helped raise workers’ wages, and ensured that low-cost housing would be built, plantation agriculture served as a prime force in creating poverty.


What we can do about it

Enforce the Hawaii State Constitution “The State shall conserve and protect agricultural lands, promote diversified agriculture, increase agricultural self-sufficiency, and assure the availability of agriculturally suitable lands”  Article X1, Section 3. Create a Maui County Department of Agriculture to enforce.


Section 1. For the benefit of present and future generations, the State and its political subdivisions shall conserve and protect Hawaii’s natural beauty and all natural resources, including land, water, air, mineral and energy sources, and shall promote the development and utilization of these resources in a manner consistent with their conservation and in furtherance of the self-sufficiency of the State.

All public natural resources are held in trust by the State for the benefit of the people. [Add Const Con 1978 and election Nov 7, 1978]


Section 3. The State shall conserve and protect agricultural lands, promote diversified agriculture, increase agricultural self-sufficiency and assure the availability of agriculturally suitable lands. The legislature shall provide standards and criteria to accomplish the foregoing.

Lands identified by the State as important agricultural lands needed to fulfill the purposes above shall not be reclassified by the State or rezoned by its political subdivisions without meeting the standards and criteria established by the legislature and approved by a two-thirds vote of the body responsible for the reclassification or rezoning action. [Add Const Con 1978 and election Nov 7, 1978]


Section 7. The State has an obligation to protect, control and regulate the use of Hawaii’s water resources for the benefit of its people.

The legislature shall provide for a water resources agency which, as provided by law, shall set overall water conservation, quality and use policies; define beneficial and reasonable uses; protect ground and surface water resources, watersheds and natural stream environments; establish criteria for water use priorities while assuring appurtenant rights and existing correlative and riparian uses and establish procedures for regulating all uses of Hawaii’s water resources. [Add Const Con 1978 and election Nov 7, 1978]


Section 9. Each person has the right to a clean and healthful environment, as defined by laws relating to environmental quality, including control of pollution and conservation, protection and enhancement of natural resources. Any person may enforce this right against any party, public or private, through appropriate legal proceedings, subject to reasonable limitations and regulation as provided by law. [Add Const Con 1978 and election Nov 7, 1978]


Section 10. The public lands shall be used for the development of farm and home ownership on as widespread a basis as possible, in accordance with procedures and limitations prescribed by law.

  • Hawai‘i should consider community-based food systems as an integral part of the state’s Public Trust, as defined by the Hawai‘i Constitution and reinforced through legal precedent. As shown below, court precedent holds that the State carries a Trust responsibility whether legislators act or not, yet we urge legislators to formalize this in law.


This is a call to create a new culture of self-determination. Rather than waiting for outside investors to appear, the state can build health, wealth, social connection, and personal capacity from the ground up using its own resources and vision. This work will draw upon insights gained from traditional food systems, create more opportunity for cultural enclaves to thrive, address new market realities, attract local investment, and create innovative technologies. While community-based, it will require the engagement of stakeholders at all levels of capacity.


Provide grants for education programs, subsidies to restore the soil destroyed by sugar cane and pineapple production, provide infrastructure, insurance support.

  • ABSTRACT: The “Increased Food Security and Food Self-Sufficiency Strategy” sets forth objectives, policies and actions to increase the amount of locally grown food consumed by Hawaii’s residents. The economic impact of food import replacement is significant. Replacing just 10% of the food Hawaii currently imports would amount to approximately $313 million dollars which would remain in the State. The Strategy recommends actions to market “Grow Local/It Matters” and to brand and label local food products. The Strategy emphasizes increasing production by strengthening agricultural infrastructure i.e. agricultural parks, irrigation systems and distribution systems/facilities. It also recommends actions to provide for food safety, pest prevention and control, workforce training, research and extension services; and policy and organizational support. A critical factor towards successful implementation will be building partnerships with the increasing number of organizations involved in food self-sufficiency/food security. The Strategy is a living document which provides a first step for continued dialog and the initiation of actions to increase food self-sufficiency and food security in Hawaii. The Strategy is Vol. I of a three part report. Volume II is entitled A History of Agriculture in Hawaii and Technical Reference Document. Volume III entitled Assessment of Irrigation Systems in Hawaii is being prepared.

  • Purpose: The purpose of this strategic plan is to increase the amount of locally grown food consumed by Hawaii residents. This will increase food self-sufficiency which is a component of food security. The working definition of food self-sufficiency is: The extent to which Hawaii satisfies its food needs from local production.

  • “We can grow all our food here, but we need to teach people how to grow food for themselves and also how to eat it,”

  • Food banks, community health centers, schools, and educational nonprofits have taken the lead in building community-based food systems that create access to low-income residents. Several individual farms and investors have also played this role. Public agencies have at times supported these efforts.


  1. Community workers have learned that when low-income residents gain skills in growing food, this motivates them to purchase and prepare fresh foods and helps them learn food preparation and processing skills. Receiving food distributions, or using SNAP benefits, places people into a more passive role with less skill development, although this is tempered by the fact that SNAP benefits may be used to purchase seeds and seedlings.

  2. Hawai‘i’s cultural heritage is constructed around caring for land and water, growing and fishing, and sharing this food with others. Providing food to extended ohana networks was not done for financial or economic gains. This food was neither sold nor bartered. It was provided to all who lived in the same ahupua‘a (watershed). The entire system relied upon renewable energy forms and mutual support. If this process of stewardship is not continued, there is no reason to believe a unique Hawaiian culture can be passed on to younger generations.


The food system of the future will involve the co-creation of a culture that sustains and prioritizes self-determination, including food access for all.

(to view the full list of conclusions, see: )


Protect Important Prime, and Productive ag land from development

  • Agriculture creates a diversity of jobs, generates tax revenues, and produces a variety of crops for different local and export markets. While agriculture ranks behind tourism and retail business in terms of market value, its contributions to the economy are significant.

Permanent protection of water rights for Prime, and Productive ag land

  • Stewardship of Land and Water Unlike urban development, agriculture protects land use options for future generations. In addition, agriculture gives residents a connection to the land and promotes the stewardship of natural resources.

  • One of Hawaiʻi’s greatest natural resources is prime agricultural lands.  If developed, these lands no longer provide food, feed, fiber or fuel for Hawaiʻi’s people.

Permanent protection for agricultural lands is available in the form of a conservation easement – a voluntary, legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or government agency that permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect its agricultural features.  It allows the landowner to continue to own and use his / her land and to sell it or pass it on to heirs.

Expand Agricultural Parks program to provide low cost farmland

  • Agricultural parks provide farmers with long-term access to affordable land and water resources to start or expand their operations. Although a considerable amount of agricultural land exists on Maui, much of this land is currently planted in sugar, used for grazing, or owned by developers and investors. For smaller diversified farmers, gaining affordable long-term tenancy to land and water resources can be difficult. Maui’s only agricultural park is located in Kula and provides affordable land leases to farmers. The development of additional agricultural parks would facilitate the expansion of diversified agriculture. Additional agricultural parks will be strategically located throughout the island.

Strategically invest in infrastructure development and energy crops

  • Energy crops are an emerging agricultural industry that has the potential to significantly increase Maui’s energy security and the demand for agricultural land.

  • Off a one-lane road is Hamakua Springs Country Farms, where Richard Ha and three generations of his family grow bananas on 600 acres carved from the plantation. When oil prices skyrocketed in the summer of 2008 before the global financial crash, Ha said he realized it would be impossible to foster sustainable agriculture without sustainable energy.

Increase percentage of locally grown nutritious food with a goal of self sufficiency

  • According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, “food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs for an active and healthy life” (2009, 8). Food insecurity can take many different forms.

…Thus, food security must be recognized as multidimensional, raising a broad variety of concerns for which policies and planning are needed. In addition, Hawai‘i must learn to differentiate food security, self-sufficiency, and resilience, which are related but are not the same.

  • “I think there’s a sense here in Hawaii that if we have a hurricane or a tsunami, how long could we last with our food supply? Not very long.”


Develop processing, packaging, and distribution “food hubs”

  • The Hawai‘i Foodbank describes itself as “the only nonprofit 501(c)3 agency in the state of Hawaii that collects, ware houses and distributes mass quantities of both perishable and non-perishable food to 250 member agencies as well as food banks on the Big Island, Maui and Kauai” (2010)

  • The USDA has had to take into account the extraordinarily high price of food in only two states. “For residents in Alaska and Hawaii, the Thrifty Food Plan costs were adjusted upward by 19 percent and 63 percent, respectively, to reflect the higher cost of the Thrifty Food Plan in those States” (USDA 2010b, 57n3). Higher food prices mean greater food insecurity for much of the state’s population, not just the very poor.

Support farmers to get food certifications for School Lunch, Good Ag

  • Department of Education The State Department of Education (DOE) School Food Services Program manages the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) in the public schools. NSLP is a federally assisted meal program administered by the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) that provides low-cost or free lunches to children meeting income criteria. A component of the NSLP is the Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Program (FFVP) which aims to increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetable served in elementary schools. DOE receives between $600,000 to $1.7 million dollars per year for FFVP to purchase locally grown fruits and vegetables.

·         Farm to school enriches the connection communities have with fresh, healthy food and local food producers by changing food purchasing and education practices at schools and early care and education settings.

  • Farm to School (F2S) efforts have grown across all 50 states (See National Farm to School Network) and has been growing stronger in Hawaii throughout the past decade. Nonprofit driven initiatives have launched programs specific to island communities.  State governmental interest in supporting F2S connections, and Federal information and financial support through the USDA’s F2S Program have supported a number of Hawaii F2S Initiatives.

  • Grow Some Good (Maui)– created in 2008 under South Maui Sustainability’s School Garden Committee to support gardens created at Kihei Elementary, Lokelani Intermediate School and Kamali’i Elementary. Members of South Maui Sustainability felt that working in schools was reaching our future generations to instill much needed knowledge about sustainability, our environment and nutrition. Since its inception, the program has expanded its outreach from one teacher at Kihei Elementary and three small raised beds to 12 schools and more than 3000 students participating in the outdoor learning programs every month.

The National Farm to School Network is an information, advocacy and networking hub for communities working to bring local food sourcing and food and agriculture education into school systems and early care and education environments.

To move Maui County’s children towards taking up their kuleana to develop a greater sense of food security as well as understanding of nutrition in Maui County by teaching our children how to grow their own food in sustainable school gardens and by promoting a direct connection between local food producers and our school food service providers for all K-12 schools, independent and public.

  • The USDA encourages applying a geographic preference in Farm to School efforts to connect schools with local farmers when procuring “unprocessed locally grown or locally raised agricultural products.”

  • Farm to school encompasses a variety of efforts to connect communities and students to fresh, nutritious food in order to encourage healthy eating habits and strengthen local economies. Farm to school generally includes three core elements: (1) school gardens; (2) nutrition, agriculture, health, and food education; and (3) the procurement of local foods for school meals. The first and second elements aim to help students become “citizen eaters” who understand the connections between food, health, and agriculture. The third aims to create pathways to deliver local produce directly into school food programs, such as the National School Lunch Program and the USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.

Procurement Laws State procurement law requires state agencies, including the DOE, to conduct a competitive procurement process to award contracts for all purchases. The various formal procurement processes can be administratively complex for state agencies and vendors. Large contracts are generally awarded to the lowest bidder. Although Hawai‘i has a 15 percent price preference available for local agricultural products, penalties associated with nonperformance discourage vendors from taking advantage of the price preference, particularly in the case of local crops that are subject to a number of production risks. Additional contracting requirements—such as vendor compliance with numerous governmental entities, registration for procurement solicitation information, projecting future prices on volatile agricultural markets, and accepting risks of potential contract default—have shown to be hurdles that local producers and distributors are often unwilling to cross to contract with the state.

Developing Procurement Laws That Facilitate Local Food Procurement To help develop a school food procurement approach that is conducive to sourcing local food, state legislators introduced in 2015 a bill to establish a special innovative procurement process for the procurement of goods and services in Hawai‘i. Special innovative procurement would provide state agencies with the flexibility to develop customized procurement procedures in order to address a unique need, such as developing a local food purchasing structure. Two special innovative procurement bills were introduced during the 2015 Hawai‘i legislative session, but failed to pass. Advocates plan to reintroduce a special innovative procurement bill during the 2016 Hawai‘i legislative session.

FARM TO SCHOOL PROCUREMENT STRATEGIES Schools, districts, agriculture departments, and nonprofits throughout the United States have developed a variety of farm to school procurement programs with varying goals, scopes, and degrees of success. The following section highlights some successful and promising strategies for incorporating more local food into school meal programs.

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