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Hirono Announces $1.3 Million Awarded to Hawaii Projects Aimed at Strengthening Local Food & Agricultural Systems

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service awarded nearly $1.3 million total to four projects in Hawaii to expand and strengthen local food systems, and increase the availability of locally grown agricultural products. The four recipient organizations are Common Ground Collective; Hawaii Good Food Alliance; Kokua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services; and the Olohana Foundation.

“Promoting sustainability in our food and agricultural systems is important for our communities, our environment, and our economy,” said Senator Hirono. “This funding and these projects are crucial as Hawaii works to reduce our reliance on imported goods. I’ll continue working to help ensure our local farmers have the resources and support to widely distribute their goods, and communities can access healthy, fresh, locally grown produce.”

The funding will be used to support four projects throughout the state. On Maui, Common Ground Collective (CGC) utilizes field work and research to create food security and economic opportunity for Maui communities. With this award, CGC will work to decrease Maui’s reliance on imported goods by enhancing the local food system, support local agricultural producers by providing distribution assistance to new local growers, and expand the capacity of local food businesses to contribute to the island’s regional food system and those in need.

Based on Oahu, Hawaii Good Food Alliance is a diverse group of community leaders who share in the production, aggregation, and distribution of food to rebuild thriving community food systems. The Hawaii Food Hub Hui, in partnership with the Hawaii Good Food Alliance, aims to build individual and collective capacity in Hawaii’s food hubs to ensure maximum sales for small and mid-size local farmers and producers, while enabling equitable access to fresh, healthy local food for communities. The goal of this project is to increase local food sales via Hawaii’s food hubs.

Also on Oahu, the Roots Food Hub Online project—operated by Kokua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services (KKV)—will create an online sales and marketing application to expand the Hub’s customer base and create new sales opportunities to support local farmers. The Roots Food Hub works with small and micro-producers to create a system that values local, cultural, and sustainable foods, while providing equal access to those foods. Currently, KKV purchases, stores, delivers, and retails goods from local producers.

On Hawaii Island, the Olohana Foundation will collaborate with local fruit producers to create new products, which will be dispersed into the local food system via The Food Basket, Hawaii Island’s food bank, and the Hawaii Farm to Car farmers market. This project aims to increase profits for small farmers and enhance local capacity for aggregation, processing, and distribution of goods for Hawaii Island and beyond.

The funding will be distributed through the Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP), grants which support local and regional food business enterprises that engage as intermediaries in indirect producer to consumer marketing. The awarded projects focus on activities such as supporting the processing, aggregation, distribution, and storage of local and regional food products; developing value-added products; and facilitating regional food chain coordination. LFPP is awarding $31.8 million in fiscal year 2022 funding to 94 projects.