This month, Hawai‘i public schools welcome a new local product in student meals – ‘ulu, otherwise known as breadfruit.
‘Ulu – an important staple food – will be combined with shredded kalua pork and spinach into a local-style burrito, along with homemade salsa. The tortilla wrap is locally made by Sinaloa Hawaiian Tortillas.
Spearheaded by the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, the Farm to School Initiative was created in 2015 to increase locally grown food in student meals. Today, the Farm to School Initiative is included under the ‘Aina Pono Farm to School program, which also incorporates school gardens, nutrition, health and food education, test kitchens, meal programs and menu planning at Hawaii’s public schools.
“We want to connect our keiki to the ʻāina and food grown in Hawai‘i,” said Albert Scales, program administrator, School Food Services Branch. “Our ‘Aina Pono Harvest of the Month program helps us to return to our Islands’ roots. It also encourages our agricultural communities to continue a legacy of cultivating locally grown sustenance to build the minds of tomorrow’s leaders.”
School administrators say healthy eating habits have been linked to students’ academic performances, often leading to higher grades and better memory skills. “Research shows students learn better when they eat well-balanced meals packed with vitamins and nutrients. It helps them to stay alert, remain focused and process information faster,” said Scales.
“I’m happy to continue former Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui’s work with our public schools to expand pathways to incorporate more scratch cooking and locally grown and produced foods in our students’ meals,” said Lt. Gov. Doug Chin. “Thanks to the ‘Aina Pono Harvest of the Month program, students are enjoying the freshness and taste of what our local farmers have to offer. For some, it may even be their first time eating ‘ulu.”