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Blog: Supporting Local Farmers to Feed Children in Hawaii

YMCA members delivering food

A kitchen staff worker preparing food

(Photo at left) YMCA members (a Summer Food Service Program sponsor) deliver food through neighborhoods in Honolulu.

(Photo above)  A kitchen staff worker prepares food to be delivered to children in Hawaii.

By Pam Miller
Administrator
Food and Nutrition Service

During the COVID-19 health crisis, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), school districts, and communities across the country have been working tirelessly to ensure that children have access to food.

We applaud the food service professionals and community partners who have utilized the flexibilities and guidance that USDA has provided to come up with creative ways to get food to the children who need it. In Hawaii, one community college professional found a way to pull resources together for a common cause.

Daniel Leung works for the Kapiolani Community College Culinary Arts Department in Honolulu, Hawaii. In the last few months, his team has expanded its cafeteria operation to provide 1,200 meals a day for distribution in the USDA Summer Food Service Program;(SFSP).

“It’s because of the years of support from USDA as well as the community partners that we are able to ramp up this feeding effort within such a short time – from providing 160 meals a day during mid-March to 1,200 a day now,” Leung said.

Five SFSP sponsors (Kamaʻāina Kids, YMCA of Honolulu, Parents And Children Together, Pālama Settlement, and Windward Nazarene Academy) have partnered with Kapiolani Community College to provide free meals to kids in low-income areas on the Oʻahu and Maui islands during the school closures.

The Kapiolani Community College also received supplemental grant funds for purchasing local beef products and a $20,000 subsidy from the Hawaii Farm Bureau for purchasing local produce to be incorporated into their recipes.

“Flexibilities provided by USDA allowed us to channel the federal reimbursements and local funding to support farmers and provide continued employment in the food industry when they are suffering from lost income,” Leung said.

USDA’s announcement last week extended key flexibilities through August 31st that include providing children multiple meals at one time that they can eat at home and allowing parents and guardians to pick up multiple meals to take home to their children. These measures ensure that the innovative meal service models being used during this pandemic can continue through the summer months.

Find out more about all of USDA’s efforts to ensure kids have access to food during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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