Molokai Food Hub Project
Sust`ainable Molokai News Release
Have you ever gone to the grocery store and wished that more locally grown food was available? Here at Sust`ainable Molokai, we have, and we know that many of you have as well. Based on the Agricultural Needs Assessment survey that we conducted in 2012, 90 percent of those Molokai residents surveyed said that they prefer to buy local Molokai food products, and 98 percent answered, “Yes, I would eat more local food if it was available.”
In response to that demand, along with the input of our island farmers, which was also collected during our Agricultural Needs Assessment process, we are now working to establish a Molokai Food Hub. The goal of this undertaking is to better connect our local farmers and food producers with our local markets (stores, restaurants, farmers markets, and schools), as well as off-island markets. The overarching purpose is to increase community access to healthy local foods, expand markets for Molokai farmers, and to improve our island’s food security.
To help increase local access and demand, we are planning to implement the following strategies:
1) Contact our local stores and restaurants to let them know what products are available on a weekly basis
2) Work with Molokai schools and preschools to get local products into the breakfast, lunch, and snack programs
3) Work with various community organizations, such as Na Pu`u Wai, to promote various local products through cooking and nutrition classes, as well as community events and challenges, such as `Ulu-Fest, `Uala-Week, Kalo-Month, etc.
4) Coordinate various other activities to be decided as the process progresses with community input.
On the supply side, we aim to work with farmers to identify what specific demand they can fill – either by growing new crops, increasing their current yield, and/or creating new value-added products. We will also work to connect interested producers with off-island markets.
This initial phase in establishing a Molokai Food Hub is being funded by the First Nations Development Institute. The funding is for approximately one year (February through December 2014), and the main objectives include creating an updated list of all of our island’s main growers and producers; establishing a “Molokai Food Hub Network” – a group of stakeholders dedicated to moving this project forward; and securing future funding/investors for Phase II, to expand Food Hub infrastructure and staff, along with increasing island farm production.
Food Hubs are part of a trend that is gaining momentum around the U.S. and Hawaii, as demand for local produce increases. There are numerous models to look at and learn from. So our aim is to find the model that best fits Molokai, or to create our own. If you are interested in being part of these conversations, please contact us at 560-5410.