Nonprofits awarded $200K to support food security efforts

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August 15, 2020

Ten Maui County nonprofits have been awarded nearly $200,000 in grants to help operate their farms and fishponds and continue distributing locally grown food to residents in need during the pandemic.

The Hawai’i Community Foundation announced last week that more than 30 nonprofits are receiving a total of $721,739 in grants funded by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to support food security efforts in Native Hawaiian communities statewide. 

HCF is helping OHA to distribute the grants, which are coming out of a $3 million emergency relief package passed by the OHA Board of Trustees in May. Nonprofits were chosen based on their ability to address COVID-related food needs while integrating aloha ‘aina, sustainability and local agriculture into their programs. The grants support the HCF Strong Funds for each county that were created to provide resources for disaster preparedness, response and recovery. 

The nonprofits receiving a total of $199,581 in Maui County are:

• Hui No Ke Ola Pono, which currently distributes produce and eggs to Hawaiian homestead residents on Maui. They plan to teach families to grow their own produce and fish using backyard aquaponics installations. $34,425.

• Hawai’i Farmers Union Foundation, which will use the funds for projects in Hana, where the foundation has created a farmer’s market as part of its islandwide food hub system with vouchers for families and kupuna in need due to the pandemic, and Lahaina, where they’re partnering with Kamehameha Schools to reestablish a native forest and provide education on canoe crops. $32,285.

• Ma Ka Hana Ka ‘Ike Building Program, which operates Mahele Farm, Hana School gardens and 27 lo’i kalo in Wailua Nui where they provide practical cultural and agricultural training to East Maui youth. The organization distributes food produced to local residents, focusing on kupuna, and partners with local farmer Ed Wendt to restore lo’i kalo and create mala kalo (dryland taro). $30,000.

• Hawai’i Taro Farm LLC, which currently produces 4,000 pounds of taro per harvest and plans to pivot from selling to tourist venues to local residents. Funding would help them sell produce below cost, provide education and explore new distribution methods that would allow increased production and lower cost per pound. $23,605.

• Kipahulu Ohana, Inc., which manages the Kapahu Living Farm that produces kalo and other canoe crops. They have been distributing food boxes for free to households in Southeast Maui since the beginning of the pandemic. Funding would support these existing programs and go toward the purchase of a boat to launch from Kipahulu as part of a new fishing program. $20,000.

• Sustainable Moloka’i, which has been supplementing Food Bank boxes with local fruit, vegetables, meat and seafood since the start of the pandemic. Their continuing programs include farmer education/apprenticeships and ulu tree giveaways. A new program planned for this year would start a community garden. $20,000.

• Noho’ana Farm, which is owned by a Native Hawaiian family who restored their ancestral land to produce kalo and other canoe crops, and has provided 350 pounds of poi to 40 Native Hawaiian families every week for two months during the pandemic. The funding would allow the farm to increase distribution to 120 families. $15,000.

• Hui O Kuapa, which has a 30-year track record of restoring and maintaining fishponds on Molokai and plans to start restoring the ‘Ohalahala fishpond and adjacent lo’i kalo terraces at Mana’e in East Molokai, using volunteers from the immediate area. $12,166. 

• Lahaina Restoration Foundation, which manages ‘Apua-kehau, the historic site of the king’s kalo patch. The park includes three kalo beds that were planted by students from the local schools in February and will be harvested in three groups during the rest of the year. The park also hosts monthly workshops on canoe plants and poi pounding. $6,100.

• Ke Kula o Pi’ilani, a primary school that partners with Ola Mau Farms to incorporate traditional Hawaiian agriculture and foodways into the school’s curriculum. The funding would allow Ola Mau Farms to restore two additional lo’i kalo and half an acre of fallow land in Central Maui, engaging 36 keiki in hands-on education. $6,000.