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Hawai‘i Island Charter Schools Foodservice Hui

Chris Hecht


This project addresses the issue of food insecurity among low-income charter school students on Hawai‘i Island. A troubling number of children on our island are at risk for hunger, suffer from obesity and related disease, and face learning challenges – much of which could be alleviated by healthy school meals. Hawaii’s charter schools historically have served the lowest-income communities in the state, but most charter schools have had difficulties implementing federal nutrition programs, due to unsustainable costs and complexity of operations. We propose to form a regional cooperative (“hui”, a Hawaiian word) that will provide member schools with centralized nutrition program services including administration, training, compliance, reporting, and procurement. The hui will enable charter schools to increase their participation in federal nutrition programs by reducing the administrative burden and operating costs. The first project goal is to meet the food needs of low-income charter school students by increasing their participation in federal child nutrition programs. The second goal is to improve food security and community self-reliance by increasing procurement of local agricultural products. The activities to achieve our goals include 1) Data collection and community outreach; 2) Hui start-up activities; 3) Creating new linkages with local food producers; 4) Hui operations, expansion and replication. The project will benefit low-income students attending nine charter schools on Hawai‘i Island with aggregate enrollment of 3,447 students. The local agricultural community will also benefit from the steady, reliable market for their local products. Replication of the hui nationwide could also benefit schools facing similar challenges.