The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) and the Office of the Lieutenant Governor unveiled a new logo and name for the Farm to School Initiative on March 29 at Mililani High School in the presence of students, teachers, HIDOE staff, state lawmakers and community supporters.
The program's new name – ‘Aina Pono Hawai‘i State Farm to School – and logo (pictured right) designed by Blackletter Group is the result of rebranding efforts designed to unite all of the programs operated by the Department's School Food Services Branch (SFSB).
"We've created ‘Aina Pono as a way to combine the Farm to School Initiative with our other educational programs, including ‘Aina Pono Harvest of the Month, test kitchens, meal programs and menu planning," said Albert Scales, SFSB's program administrator. "Health and food education, nutrition and school gardens are now included under ‘Aina Pono as well."
The Hawaiian word ‘aina – without the kahakō or macron – refers to eating or meal. Pono means righteousness and is often used to mean being honorable, doing things correctly, being in a state of balance and harmony.
"When we combine the two words together – ‘Aina Pono – it can loosely translate to 'righteous meal' as one interpretation," said Scales. "Along those same lines, to be 'pono' is about doing what's right. We want to honor and return to our Islands' roots, bringing scratch-cooked meals back into our school cafeterias. It's about finding a balance in the food we are serving with the USDA's nutrition requirements and creating a harmony of locally grown ingredients that we incorporate into student meals."
The original Farm to School Initiative was spearheaded by the Lieutenant Governor's Office in 2015, after
Senate Bill 376 was signed into law as Act 218. A pilot program followed in the Kohala Complex Area on Hawaii Island through a partnership with HIDOE, Hawaii Department of Agriculture and The Kohala Center. The program's goal is to address the supply and demand issues surrounding the purchasing of local food for Hawaii public schools. The program also aims to systematically increase state purchasing of local food for student meals.
In January 2018, the program expanded to Mililani High School on Oahu. As HIDOE's second largest food production site, Mililani High School provides about 2,500 school lunches daily for approximately 1,000 high school students and an additional 1,500 students at Mililani Uka and Mililani Waena elementary schools.
In celebration of the program's new name and logo, Mililani High School cooked kalua pork overnight in an imu (underground oven) on its school campus. While some Hawaii schools have organized Thanksgiving fundraising imu events to cook turkeys, this is the first imu-cooked meal to be officially sanctioned and served in a public school cafeteria to students. Lunch also included local pineapples and bananas, spinach, poi, lomi tomato and a freshly baked sweet roll.
For more information on the ‘Aina Pono Hawai‘i State Farm to School program, as well as delicious recipes, please