The Kohala Center Receives Federal Farm to School Grant
A federal Farm to School grant has been received by The Kohala Center to aid in the support of increased locally produced foods for Hawai’i schools, as well as increased support for school gardens and farms throughout the state.
“Every year, the United States Department of Agriculture awards the Farm to School grants to help schools connect with local producers and teach children where their food comes from,” said Deborah Kane, National Director of the USDA Farm to School Program. “These funds support the efforts of the Kohala Center to strengthen the capacity and impact of the Hawai’i Farm to School and School Garden Hui, a statewide network of farm to school stakeholders.”
With the grant from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, extra support will make it possible to expand the number of school participating in the Freah Fruit and Vegetable Program, increase the program’s purchasing of locally grown fruits and vegetables, and build relationships between school purchasers, local distributors, and farmers.
Additionally, the grant will address the development of initiatives to incorporate food, nutrition, and agricultural education into K-8 school curricula and support efforts to build coalitions that strengthen the capacity and impact of HFSSGH to advocate for and implement both procurement and curriculum development.
“Across the nation there is a movement to increase local or regionally produced foods in school cafeterias,” said Chris Kanazawa, state director of the USDA Rural Development Hawai’i Office. “The USDA Farm to School program emphasizes food, farming, and nutrition, and integrates principles of health eating habits through school cafeteria offerings, hands-on learning activities such as school gardening, farm visits, culinary classes, and the support of the local agriculture economies.
“Here in Hawai’i, as island communities, supporting the local growers and producers is essential if we want to ensure the reliability and quality of fresh foods. If we are to ‘feed for the future,’ the involvement of local, state, and federal agency programs and funding are key participants to ensuring nutritious meals for our children,” Kanazawa said. “USDA can be a tremendous funding resource to the state through its grant and loan programs. Assistance to farmers and ranchers, food processors and distributors, development of Farm to School programs, and nutrition learning experiences are examples of activities that may benefit from USDA funding. Having a robust Farm to School program for the State of Hawai’i will create the connection between the classroom, cafeteria, and garden, and support good health, nutrition, agriculture, and the local economy.”
The grant will provide the funding for gathering metrics for the FFVP by working with the Department of Education’s Office of Child Nutrition, as well as creating a report of best practices for participating schools.
“I’m pleased that the USDA Farm to School Grant will support The Kohala Center’s work to increase procurement of locally grown fruits and vegetables in the morning snack program of 16 public and charter schools on Hawai’i Island, tie standards to garden curriculum and support statewide Farm to School efforts,” said Russell Ruderman, Chairman of the Hawai’i Senate Committee on Agriculture.
Partnering in the effort with The Kohala Center is the Office of Hawai’i Child Nutrition Program, Kona Pacific Public Charter School, the Hawai’i Farm to School & School Garden Hui, and participating charter and public schools statewide.