Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture launches pilot grant program to boost food hubs
The Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture has opened a pilot grant program to support the establishment and expansion of food hubs in the state.
Food hubs are centrally located facilities where food products can be aggregated, stored, processed and marketed.
Proposals for the Food Hub Pilot Program now are being accepted for grants between $50,000 and $250,000. In 2022, the program was approved by the State Legislature and then Gov. David Ige with an appropriation of $1.35 million.
“Most Hawai‘i farms are small operations and are not able to fill large orders from schools, hospitals, other institutions and businesses,” said Sharon Hurd, chairperson of the Hawai‘i Board of Agriculture. “Food hubs provide a gathering point to pool produce from many farmers to fill large orders for locally grown produce.
“In addition, food hubs assist with the distribution, processing foods for added value, online sales and marketing which allows farmers to actually concentrate on what they do best – growing and producing more food.”
This grant program is specifically for food hubs specializing in food that is grown, raised or sourced within the state.
According to a Hawai‘i Food Hub Hui report, there were 14 food hubs in Hawai‘i in 2021 which employed about 200 employees and serviced 1,337 food producers with total sales of $14 million.
Most food hubs provide emergency food distribution and many support child and elderly nutrition programs.
The Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture believes that support of food hubs will be integral in reaching local food purchasing goals set by statute.
In the 2021 legislative session, Act 175 mandated the Hawai‘i Department of Education to establish the goal to purchase at least 30 percent of food served in public schools from local sources by 2030.
To view the Request for Proposals and application information, go to the state procurement office website at: https://hands.ehawaii.gov/hands/opportunities/opportunity-details/22663
The deadline to submit applications is noon, May 3, 2023. For further information, contact The Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture Market Development Branch at 808-973-9627.