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Sen. Hirono Visits Big Island

April 22, 2022, 2:36 PM HST
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Sen. Mazie K. Hirono visited the Big Island on Thursday, April 21, with a focus on lowering costs for working families and investing in Hawaiʻi communities.

She started her day with a visit to the KTA Super Store in Puainako, where she discussed DA BUX program, which partners with food retailers to make produce grown in Hawaii more affordable for SNAP-EBT cardholders, and efforts to lower food costs. Hirono has been a vocal supporter of DA BUX program. Last year she supported a $5 million federal grant to help the program build capacity and she will continue to support the program.

“With food costs rising, we need to do everything we can to help provide families with nutritious, affordable food,” said Hirono. “Today, I saw firsthand how DA BUX program is helping families with low incomes purchase fresh, locally-grown produce. As we work to make sure every family in Hawaiʻi has food to eat, I will continue to champion this important program and other initiatives that help to lower food costs for families.”

Hirono then toured the Kolekole Bridge in Honomu to discuss infrastructure investments in Hawaii with Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation Deputy Director of Highways Ed Sniffen. The Kolekole Bridge is one of many bridges in Hawaiʻi that will be upgraded thanks to the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed into law last year, which includes more than $2.8 billion in funding for Hawaiʻi’s infrastructure.

“The Kolekole bridge plays an essential role in the lives of people who live and work in Honomu. But like so much of our nation’s infrastructure, it requires upgrades and additional maintenance to better serve the community,” said Hirono. “Thanks to the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Hawaii is set to receive more than $2.8 billion for infrastructure investments including upgrades to bridges and roads. This historic funding will help make sure Hawaii remains a great place to live, work, and explore for decades to come.”

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Hirono also visited an AP Environmental Science class at Waiakea High School taught by Whitney Aragaki, Hawaiʻi’s 2022 Teacher of the Year.

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“As Hawaiʻi’s 2022 Teacher of the Year, Whitney Aragaki has made substantial contributions to her school, students, and community,” said Hirono. “I was honored to have her as my guest for this year’s State of the Union, and I enjoyed the opportunity to see her in action in the classroom today with her bright young students. The last two years have been incredibly challenging for students, parents, and educators. As we continue our recovery and work to address learning loss, I’m working to make sure every student in Hawaii can learn safely in the classroom.”

The senator ended her day on the Big Island with a visit to the Merrie Monarch Festival in Hilo – a major economic driver for Hawaiʻi Island and the vendors participating.

“The Merrie Monarch Festival is a wonderful celebration of Hawaii’s unique history, culture, and talent—it has also developed into an important economic driver for the Big Island,” said Hirono. “After two years without the Merrie Monarch Festival, it was great to see the festival back in action this year and to meet so many talented local artists and craftspeople from across Hawaiʻi.”

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