The Hawaiʻi State Department of Education is continuing its ‘Āina Pono: Harvest of the Month program for a second year. According to the HIDOE website, the program is an effort to include more locally grown products in public school meals.
This month, participating public schools statewide will be serving ‘ulu beef stew. The new lunch entrée will feature locally grown ʻulu, or breadfruit, from the Hawai‘i ‘Ulu Producers Cooperative. Members of the Hawaiʻi Cattlemen’s Council and the Hawaiʻi Beef Industry Council will provide the locally raised meat for these student lunches on Hawaiʻi Island, Kauaʻi, Molokaʻi and Lānaʻi.
HUPC is a farmer-owned and operated business that was established in August 2016 with nine members on Hawaiʻi Island. Today, the business has more than 50 breadfruit farmers who help to provide a supply of breadfruit nearly year-round.
“Sharing this ancient Hawaiian staple with our younger generation is a great way to show our keiki what our land can provide,” HUPC manager Dana Shapiro said. “Breadfruit grows abundantly throughout the islands and we’ve been experiencing a revived interest from consumers, producers, researchers, community groups, and policy makers as our state strives to become more self-sufficient, given that more than 80 percent of our food supply is imported.”
‘Ulu made its school lunch debut last school year in a local-style burrito, combined with shredded kalua pork, spinach, and homemade salsa. The HIDOE said the new ʻulu beef stew recipe was created to showcase the fruitʻs cooking versatility.
“We did some experimentations with the breadfruit and found out it worked well in a favorite local dish like Beef Stew,” said Dann Carlson, assistant superintendent for the Office of School Facilities and Support Services. “‘Āina Pono opportunities like this allow us to help transform the way our students eat and introduce them to locally grown produce.”
Carlson also said that the partnership with HUPC will be beneficial for Hawaiʻiʻs economy.
“Buying from our local farmers and ranchers helps to support Hawaii’s economic growth and assist in agricultural development,” Carlson said. “October is also National Farm to School Month, and having our schools participate in the ‘Aina Pono: Harvest of the Month program is the perfect way to celebrate.”
Locally grown products that were previously served in school lunches under the program include beef, bananas, papayas and pineapples. More information on the program can be found on the HIDOE website .