The Administration for Native Americans has awarded Hana Health a $1,161,343 grant over three years for the project “Restoring Community Health”. Project support is also provided by Honu’apo, a Native Hawaiian Organization and long-time partner in Hana Health’s wellness programs. The goal of the project is to reduce the number of Hana District Native Hawaiians with poorly managed diabetes and hypertension, or who are high risk overweight/obese through a transition to a more traditional diet. Hana Health intends to expand its Hana Fresh farm operation to include the cultivation of traditional food crops – kalo, sweet potato, ulu and others – for distribution to Hana Health’s diabetic patients and those patients who are high risk overweight. Hana Health will also be looking to source product from local kalo farmers and fisherman when project implementation gets underway in February 2021.
Poor access to traditional Hawaiian food crops is an important factor influencing food choice, especially for low-income consumers. Food insecurity is associated with poor physical health, diabetes, and hypertension. Nearly half of Hawaiʻi residents with diabetes are food insecure and 42% of those with heart disease or a history of stroke are food insecure. The COVID-19 pandemic has further impacted food security as job losses negatively impact household income while the cost of most food is increasing. It is expected that improving access and transitioning back to a more traditional diet will help to restore good health to the Native Hawaiian community.