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.
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. 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."
Next Farm to School Site: Mililani High
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.
Chef Greg Christian, president and founder of Beyond Green Sustainable Food Partners, has been working with Mililani High’s Cafeteria Manager Debora Kam and her staff to develop a new menu featuring fresh fruits and vegetables as well as locally grown beef. For more information,
‘Aina Pono Hawai‘i State Harvest of the Month Program
HIDOE continues its efforts to include local agriculture in student meals through its ‘Aina Pono Hawai‘i State Harvest of the Month program.
This May, Hawaii public schools will be featuring fresh Maui-grown pineapples. Click here for more information about the program. To view the carbohydrate count for the Sweet and Sour Pineapple Pork, click here.
Previous months of the 'Aina Pono Harvest of the Month program featured:
Want to recreate the Sweet and Sour Pineapple Pork meal at home? Here's the recipe:
- 2 pounds pork butt
- ¾ cup shoyu (soy sauce)
- ¾ teaspoon garlic (granulated)
- ¾ teaspoon fresh ground ginger root
- ⅓ tablespoon black pepper
- 1½ cup distilled vinegar
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup pineapple juice
- 1 medium green bell pepper (cut into bite-size pieces)
- ½ medium round onion (cut into bite-size pieces)
- 12 oz. local fresh pineapple
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- Cut pork into 1½-inch cubes.
- Preheat oil in pot.
- Add cut pork.
- Season with garlic, ginger and black pepper. Cook to golden brown.
- Mix vinegar, shoyu, brown sugar and pineapple juice.
- Add mixture to pork.
- Bring pork with sauce to boil.
- Turn heat down and simmer until pork is tender, but not overcooked.
- Add bell peppers, onions, and slurry (mixture of water and cornstarch).
- Bring to boil to properly thicken sauce.
- Turn off heat.
- Stir in cut pineapple.
Nutrition information for Sweet and Sour Pineapple Pork (excluding rice) – Serving Size: 6 oz.; 293 calories; 17 g (saturated fat: 6 g); 24 g carbohydrates; 1 g fiber; 10 g protein; 668 mg sodium.
(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.)