Hawai‘i Public Schools Celebrate Thanksgiving With Sweet Potato Pie
Hawai‘i public schools will celebrate the upcoming holiday season by serving Okinawan Sweet Potato Pie. The dish is a part of November’s ‘Āina Pono: Harvest of the Month program. The programʻs 200 participating schools statewide will select a day sometime this month to serve the pie to their students.
“This is the first time we’ll be including local Okinawan sweet potatoes from the Big Island in students’ meals,” Farm to School coordinator Dexter Kishida said. “We wanted to create a local spin-off of the traditional pumpkin pie that many enjoy during Thanksgiving.”
Keolu Elementary Schoolʻs cafeteria manager Edita Montgomery and her cafeteria staff created the original recipe, which they modified to enhance the pie’s flavor, accommodate mass production, and meet nutritional guidelines. As a skilled baker, Montgomery said it was important that the recipe included ingredients that are available to public schools.
“The whole wheat flour that schools normally use changed the taste of the crust, so we adjusted the ingredients by modifying it after our shortbread cookie recipe to improve the flavor,” said Montgomery. “It’s an honor to be a part of the ‘Āina Pono program as we transform student meals and incorporate more locally grown ingredients.”
Kishida said that one of the great things about the ‘Aina Pono: Harvest of the Month program is that it gives students the opportunity to try new, locally grown foods.
“As a child, exposure to different types of food is highly dependent on what the child’s family members provide for them,” Kishida said. “If students haven’t tried Okinawan sweet potatoes before, this is a chance to try something new. We’re thankful for our sponsors and community partners who make it possible to continue this program and allow our students to explore the different flavors our local agriculture community has to offer.”
Other locally grown products that were previously featured in the program include beef, bananas, papayas, and pineapples. More information about the ‘Āina Pono programs can be found online.