Farm to School Initiative Seeks Information from Local Farmers

April 1, 2016, 4:09 PM HST · Updated April 1, 4:09 PM
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Grown on Maui Farmers Market, courtesy photo.

Grown on Maui Farmers Market, courtesy file photo.

Lieutenant Governor Shan Tsutsui of Maui is working collaboratively with the Hawaiʻi State Department of Agriculture and Department of Education to gather information from the agriculture community for the Farm to School Initiative. Farmers across the state are being asked to participate in a Request for Information or “RFI” survey for the Initiative’s market research, beginning today, April 1.

The goal of the Farm to School Initiative is to address the supply and demand issues surrounding the purchasing of local food for school cafeterias. State officials say the Initiative aims to “systematically increase State purchasing of local food for our school menus as well as connect our keiki with their food through the use of products from the local agricultural community.”

Lt. Governor Tsutsui, who is spearheading the Initiative, said the RFI is an important first step for the Initiative. “We are hoping to hear from all sectors of our agriculture community — from ranchers to farmers – to provide us invaluable information so that we can assess how viable it is to increase local products in our schools.”

“The department is always looking for ways to improve our partnerships with our local growers,” said School Food Services Branch Director Glenna Shim in a state press release. “The information gathered through the RFI will assist us in increasing our current capacity to purchase local produce.”

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“This is one avenue by which we can continue to support our local farmers and local economy through teaching students about their agricultural community by way of their school menu,” said Scott Enright, Chairperson of the Hawaiʻi Board of Agriculture.

State officials say that across the nation, farm to school programs are reconnecting students to a better understanding of the food system and where their food comes from. According to the announcement, state officials say farm to school programs introduce students to healthier eating habits and help them become familiar with new vegetables and fruits that they and their families will then be more willing to incorporate into their own diets.

The last day to fill out the RFI is on April 30, 2016.

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The RFI can be found at the following direct LINK.

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