Food Summit REcap

January 2023: Hawaiʻi Food Systems Summit

To address the underperformance and vulnerability of Hawaiʻi’s Food System, more than 100 individuals representing multiple counties, sectors, and interest groups gathered on January 11-12 at UH West Oʻahu for the Hawaiʻi Food Systems Summit 2023 to discuss and prioritize the state, county, and federal policies needed to bolster the growing movement to transform Hawaiʻi’s food system – to ensure health, equity, resilience and natural resource sustainability. The summit resulted in the prioritization of twelve (12) food and agriculture policies that will be supported by diverse subject matter experts and food systems advocates during this legislative session.

Food System advocates call for transformation with twelve policy priorities

The 12 Food and Agricultural policies were organized into the following 3 themes:

  1. Hawaiʻi State Food System Plan/Charter – Establishes the sustainable food systems working group within the Department of Agriculture. Requires the
    working group to develop and submit a plan, recommendations for implementing the plan, and any proposed legislation to the legislature to harmonize and synchronize food system planning throughout the State.
  2. Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC) reforms – created in 1994 to transition the agricultural system from the dominance of sugar and pineapple to one composed of a diversity of different crops. An audit shows it has failed to address systemic bias and difficulties of smaller local farms; hence the proposal to amend the focus, scope, and management of the ADC.
  3. Organic Waste Diversion: Ban and Benchmarks – aims to reduce the solid waste stream prior to disposal through source reduction, recycling, organic waste diversion, and bioconversion. Requires each county to incorporate into its next integrated solid waste management plan revision a plan to divert by 1/1/2025 all organic waste produced. Provides for cost recovery and reimbursement of counties.
  1. Qualified Farmer Program – expanding tax incentives for farmers beyond
    exemption from fuel tax; The incentives are aimed at addressing the high cost of
    doing business in Hawai‘i, the logistical issues of marketing produce and competing
    with products coming from the mainland. The bill would exempt qualifying farmers
    from general excise taxes on machinery, feed, and seed, among other expenses.
  2. Farm to School
    • A. Through the Hawai‘i Farm to School Hui seeks to prioritize policy development and advocacy with the Department of Education, Hawaiʻi State Legislature, and University of Hawai‘i College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) for the purposes of supporting and ensuring implementation of Act 175 (2021).
      • i. Localization of school food:
        • Policy that requires the Department of Education to establish rules for the procurement of goods and services related to the administration of food programs at public schools that incorporate a geographic preference for unprocessed locally grown and locally raised food products. Except for the
          provision relating to Hawai‘i products, exempts the department’s food program from the Hawai‘i public procurement code.
        • F2S Restructuring– Requires the Department of Education to
          change the funds used for fifteen school cafeteria supervisor
          positions from funds of the state office to funds of the
          complex area offices.
    • ii. Reduction of school food and cafeteria waste
    • iii. Support school garden and farm-based education
      • Establish a DOE Trees Program- seeking more DOE internal support (including additional arborist staff and possible
        program funds) goes toward tree planting and care on school campuses. Hui to participate in communications with relevant partners (Rep. Lisa Marten, DOFAW, etc.) regarding re-introduction of this bill from the 2022 session (or similar), and to advocate for this bill.
      • Establish the P-20 Ag Ed Coordinator in CTAHR. Hawai‘i Farm to School Hui to lead the introduction of companion bills. Including it as part of UH CTAHR budget request is not currently an option. DC149 report
    • iv. F2S Funding – Moves HCNP to the DAGS office; Establishes the
      • Hawai‘i child nutrition programs agency in the office of the auditor. Establishes a grant program to support the funding of certain initiatives for the State’s public schools. Establishes three permanent full-time equivalent positions (3.0 FTE). Appropriates funds.
  3. Shifting the narrative from current systems to ancestral systems – For Native Hawaiians, the acts of cultivating and consuming ancestral crops are deeply intertwined with their identity, history, spirituality and culture. Hawaiian food is as special as its location. Colonial rule suppressed indigenous and culturally appropriate food systems and replaced this with a plantation model characterized by monocropping. Food system transformation needs to be framed with a perspective of restoring the relationship with ʻāina and protecting ancestral systems that in turn protect the environment.
  4. Food Producers Income Tax Credit – Creates an income tax credit to alleviate the high costs of production for farmers, ranchers, and fishers and incentivizes growth in the agricultural sector in the State.
  5. Turn state lands into agricultural parks and agricultural worker housing – Revisit current zoning regulations to reclassify land use and increase the surface area that can be used for food production and for the housing of agricultural workers.
  1. Secure funding for the state Double Up Bucks Program– Securing funding for the state Double Up Bucks Program so that SNAP purchasing power can be doubled
    when purchasing locally sourced produce and proteins. Request for $1M for DA BUX Double Up Food Bucks — this will be amended to a request for $3M. Dedicated annual state funding. Decrease GusNIP match requirement (Farm Bill).
  2. Increased funding for child nutrition/universal school lunch – Hawaiʻi’s reimbursement rate for federally funded child nutrition programs should be 62% higher than other states since reimbursement rates were set 43 years ago. The request is to provide a 43% emergency increase until the new rates are adjusted to improve the quality of universal, free school meals for all students in Hawai‘i.
  3. Continued funding for the Food Hub Program – seeks continuation funding for the food hub program beyond the current 1-year pilot program.
  4. Emergency Food for Families Fund (tax check off) – establish an emergency food fund for families based on voluntary tax contributions.