Hawaii Department of Education to receive $1.8 million for local produce

Sep 22, 2022

The U.S. The Department of Agriculture recently announced that Hawaii will be receiving funding from the agency’s Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program (LFPA). This will enable the Hawaii Department of Education (DOE) to purchase and distribute locally grown produce from underserved producers to students and their families.

“The Hawaii Department of Education is thrilled to have been awarded a $1.8 million LFPA grant,” said Keith Hayashi, superintendent for Hawaii public schools, in a press release. “This support will be used to procure locally sourced produce for food boxes that will be distributed in low-income communities to students and their families during intercessions. This is especially important as school meals are sometimes the only source of nutrition for many of our students and meals are typically not provided during intersessions.” 

In 2021, Hawaii state lawmakers passed legislation, signed into law as Act 175, SLH 2021, committing the Hawaii DOE to buying more locally sourced food to ultimately help strengthen Hawaii’s food production market and its resilience. The law requires that, at minimum, 30% of the food served in public schools be sourced locally by 2030. It also moved the state’s Farm-to-School program from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture to the Hawaii DOE to facilitate implementation.

The USDA’s LFPA program is authorized by the American Rescue Plan to maintain and strengthen resiliency in the food and agricultural supply chain.  The program aims to provide food security and stability to students and their families during critical times when school is not in session while supporting and increasing local food procurement and strengthening relationships between public schools and the local agricultural community.

“USDA is excited to partner with Hawaii to promote economic opportunities for farmers and producers and to increase access to locally sourced, fresh, and nutritious food in underserved communities,” said Jenny Lester Moffitt, USDA undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs, in the announcement.