Ulupono Initiative

AINA In Schools

Supporting education to connect keiki to land, water and food to grow a healthier Hawaii.

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Background

Supporting environmental education in Hawaii’s schools and communities by providing students with experiences that will enhance their appreciation for and understanding of their environment so they will be lifelong stewards of the earth.

The Kokua Hawaii Foundation’s AINA In Schools program is a farm-to-school initiative that connects children to their local land, waters, and food in order to grow a healthier Hawaii. In addition to encouraging the use of locally grown fruits and vegetables in school meals and snacks, the program teaches kids to grow food in their own school gardens. AINA In Schools also provides nutrition education and field trips to local farms, while outreach efforts engage parents and other community members in environmental protection and healthy food choices.

AINA In Schools focuses on the core components of nutrition education, garden-based learning and healthy food on campus with additional emphasis on agricultural literacy as well as reducing, reusing and recycling waste. It uses family and community outreach to involve parents and other community members in environmental protection and healthy food choices.

Ulupono provided funding to help hire a School Food Coordinator to work with the Hawaii Department of Education (DOE) School Food Service Branch to increase local procurement, tackle purchasing issues, address challenges with the supply chain distribution, and continue to improve school meals. The School Food Coordinator also worked directly with AINA participating schools to assist the DOE on recipe development, training and marketing. Kokua’s efforts included running a few pilot programs as well as creation of some salad bars at AINA participating schools. The program also developed fresh local produce snacks, education sheets, and a pilot demonstration project with Kaiser Permanente Hawaii to gain food safety certification at a school garden so they can use the food grown there in the cafeteria.

Kokua helped create and serves as a key member of the statewide Hawaii Farm to School and School Garden Hui. And the Foundation worked with State lawmakers and State departments on legislation, policy and other roadblocks in the supply chain including procurement of farm to school/farm to institution food. The program sees opportunity to replicate lessons learned in schools and grow programs throughout more schools. In the future, there is potential for other stakeholders to expand similar projects to state hospitals, correctional centers and other institutions that could benefit from more fresh local food.

In addition, Kokua also provides additional resources including Kokua Hawaii Foundation Mini-Grants to support gardens, composting, teacher trainings and more; Field Trip Grants to support field trips to local farms, restaurants, loi; garden and nutrition, curricula that incorporates current academic standards, and many more conferences, workshops, toolkits and resource guides to support schools environmental education endeavors.

Why We Invested

AINA In Schools encourages the use of locally grown fruits and vegetables in school meals and snacks, and teaches kids to grow food in their own school gardens. Its emphasis on agricultural literacy as well as reducing, reusing and recycling waste aligns with Ulupono Initiative’s goals of increased local food production and better waste management. 

Impact

  • Funded school food coordinator working to put more fresh local food into school meals
  • Improved understanding of purchasing, supply and distribution issues
  • Supported educated consumers who seek out fresh local food
  • Snack program provided fresh local snacks at pilot six schools
  • Supported four school salad bars with different funding models other schools can follow
  • Supported more local food by increasing the consumer demand among children and families

At a Glance

AINA In Schools logo

Investment Area
Food, Waste
Financial Model
Non-Profit
Total Investment

$65,000

Support for AINA In Schools is provided through a grant from the Ulupono Donor-Advised Fund at the Hawaii Community Foundation.

Website
KokuaHawaiiFoundation.org/aina