USDA to Send $1 Million to Food Basket

November 7, 2019, 6:00 AM HST (Updated November 6, 2019, 6:20 PM)
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The Food Basket offers locally sourced food, like grilled tuna steaks, to low-income families in need on the Big Island. PC: Kristin Frost Albrecht.

The US Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday that it has awarded a grant of nearly $1 million to The Food Basket on Hawai‘i Island.

The money will help more low-income families across the state access locally grown produce and healthy food, according to a press release from the office of Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i).

“This new federal funding means more people in Hawai‘i will be able to put healthy, locally grown food on their tables, helping both local farmers and families in need,” said Schatz, who serves as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

By receiving access to federal matching funds, The Food Basket will build on its current program, which gives Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) cardholders additional food dollars when they purchase locally grown produce using their SNAP benefits.

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Nutrition incentive programs like the one developed by The Food Basket are a means for supporting local farmers and small businesses, who might otherwise miss out on the economic benefits communities can derive from SNAP, the release stated.

Hawai‘i imports approximately 90% of its food supply, resulting in food costs that are 61% higher than the mainland. As a result, Hawai‘i is extremely vulnerable to food shortages.

The Food Basket aims to reduce dependency on mainland markets by supporting Hawai‘i’s agricultural producers and incentivizing the purchase of locally grown food, the release continued.

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