‘Aina Pono Programs

The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) is increasing local food in student meals as well as connecting our keiki (children) with the ‘āina (land) through their food, using products from the local agricultural community. Learn more about the 'Aina Pono programs, including Farm to School and Harvest of the Month.

‘Aina Pono: Farm to School Program

The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) is increasing local food in student meals as well as connecting our keiki (children) with the ‘āina (land) through their food, using products from the local agricultural community.

The effort to include more local ingredients in student meals is made possible with the help of local farmers across the state of Hawaii. HIDOE has also established community partnerships and continues to receive support from the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA), the Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH), The Kohala Center, Kōkua Hawaiʻi Foundation, Ulupono Initiative, the Hawai‘i Farm to School Hui, Dorrance Family Foundation, Hawaii Appleseed, Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation (HFBF) and HMSA, to name a few.

Returning to Our Islands' Roots

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, HDOA and The Kohala Center. The kitchen located at Kohala High serves about 600 meals a day to its students, as well as Kohala Elementary and Kohala Intermediate schools. It also serves as a cooking and education lab, while providing needed data on costs and waste to inform scaling the program in other regions. 

In January 2018, Mililani High School was selected as the next participant in the ‘Aina Pono Hawai‘i State Farm to School program. As HIDOE's second largest food production site, Mililani High provides about 2,500 school lunches daily for approximately 1,000 high school students and an additional 1,500 students at Mililani Uka Elementary and Mililani Waena Elementary. For more information, click here

New 'Aina Pono logoThe 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. The video above provides an overview of the effort.

Today, the Farm to School Initiative is included under 'Aina Pono. 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."

‘Aina Pono: Harvest of the Month Program

HIDOE continues its efforts to include locally grown products in student meals through its ‘Aina Pono: Harvest of the Month program. 

This October, participating public schools statewide will be serving ‘Ulu Beef Stew. For more information, click here

Previous months of the 'Aina Pono Harvest of the Month program featured: 



'Aina Pono: Harvest of the Month Recipe – 'Ulu Beef Stew

Want to recreate the ‘Ulu Beef Stew at home? Here's the recipe: 

Servings: 12 servings 

‘Ulu Beef Stew
  • 3 tablespoon vegetable oil (for browning the beef) 
  • 3 pounds boneless stew meat (cut into 1-inch cubes)
  • ¾ cup crushed tomato
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • ½ cup beef base 
  • ¾ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 cups water 
  • 1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon Tabasco (optional)
  • 1 medium round onion (cut into bite-size pieces)
  • 3 stalks of celery (cut into bite-size pieces)
  • 2 medium-sized carrots (cut into bite-size pieces) 
  • 2 pounds fresh 'ulu (breadfruit)
  • 1 cup water (for the slurry)
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour 
  1. Heat oil in a large pot. Add the stew meat. Cook until the beef is browned on all sides. 
  2. Add crushed tomato, tomato paste, garlic, beef base, black pepper, sugar and water (optional: Worchestershire sauce and Tabasco). Cover and cook, skimming from time to time, until the beef is half-cooked.
  3. Add onions and celery. Cover and continue to cook until the beef tender.
  4. Add carrots and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. 
  5. Add 'ulu and simmer until vegetables are tender.
  6. Make slurry (mix flour and water) and strain through a sieve to remove lumps.
  7. Add slurry to stew and stir constantly until desired thickness is reached. Bring back to a simmer before turning off heat.

Nutrition information for 'Ulu Beef Stew (excluding rice) – Serving Size: 10 oz.; 346 calories; 13 g total fat (saturated fat: 5 g); 32 g carbohydrates; 6 g fiber; 26 g protein; 485 mg sodium. Click here to view the carbohydrate count

(Nutrient values are estimates only. Variations may occur due to product availability and food preparation. Nutrient levels may vary based on methods of preparation, origin, and freshness of ingredients, etc. Value of the menu item is listed in grams (g) of carbohydrates rounded to the nearest whole number. While we do our best to ensure accuracy, we make no representation or warranty regarding the information contained in this document. Although we are providing nutritional information for our menus, the information in this document is for informational purposes only. No information, services or materials offered shall be construed as or understood to be medical advice or care.)

Strategic Plan 2017-2020

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