Student meals feature another local food source


The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) continues its efforts to include local agriculture in student meals through its ‘Aina Pono Harvest of the Month program. This month, fresh bananas will be served in a Banana Pie or a Banana Crumble at all public school cafeterias.

The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) continues its efforts to include local agriculture in student meals through its 'Aina Pono Harvest of the Month program, which kicked off last year with locally grown beef. This month, HIDOE and the Lieutenant Governor's Office have partnered up with the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) and various local farms across the state to serve fresh bananas at all public schools.

"We're highlighting locally grown bananas by serving either a fresh Banana Pie or Banana Crumble one day in January at every school cafeteria," said Albert Scales, administrator, School Food Services Branch. "By introducing a produce that is locally grown in Hawaii to our students each month, we hope to expand their palates and allow them to try new foods that they might not have been exposed to at home."

Scales said serving the bananas in a dessert would make it more appealing for students. "Instead of serving raw bananas that students can peel and eat, we wanted to be creative," he said. "Part of introducing new foods to children is making it fun for them. If the new food looks interesting, they're more inclined to try it."

While HIDOE is changing the way food is purchased, prepared and delivered, the 'Aina Pono Harvest of the Month program is also a great opportunity for Hawaii's agriculture community.

"This new program that was developed under the Farm to School Initiative continues to cultivate the partnership with our schools, farmers and ranchers," said Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. "It also connects students with the farming community, allowing them to experience the taste and freshness of what Hawaii has to offer."

Approximately 34,000 lbs. of bananas are being provided by several local farms, including Sugarland Growers Inc. and Ohana Banana Farms, to name a few.

"We're excited to be working with the Department of Education on incorporating more fresh, local produce for Hawaii's public school students," said Larry Jefts, owner of Sugarland Growers Inc.

Jefts said purchasing local foods from our food safety certified farms on each island also helps to support and strengthen Hawaii's economy.

"Buying local creates important economic opportunities and supports our community's growth and sustainability," said Jefts. "The money that is spent on locally grown foods is reinvested with other local businesses and services across the state. There are numerous benefits as a result of this coming full circle."

The Farm to School Initiative started in 2015, and was led by Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui. The program was created to increase locally grown food in student meals through a partnership with Lt. Gov. Tsutsui, HIDOE, the Department of Agriculture and The Kohala Center. Today, the Farm to School Initiative is included under 'Aina Pono, which also incorporates school gardens, nutrition, health and food education, test kitchens, meal programs and menu planning at Hawaii's public schools.

USDA Nondiscrimination Statement

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA. 

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at:, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

(1)  mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights

1400 Independence Avenue,

SW Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

(2)  fax: (202) 690-7442; or

(3)  email:

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

'Aina Pono Farm to School Recipe: Fresh Banana Crumble 

Want to recreate this delicious banana dessert at home? Here is the recipe:

Servings: 12


  • ¾ cup + 2 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour 
  • ⅓ cup + 4 ⅛ teaspoons salted butter  
  •  teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¾ cup + 2 ½ tablespoons rolled oats 


  • 3 pounds fresh bananas 
  • 8 ⅝ fluid ounces pineapple juice
  • 1 ⅛ ounces sugar
  • ⅜ ounces all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon


  1. Peel and slice fresh bananas. 
  2. Mix all filling ingredients in a bowl or pan and let it sit for 30 minutes, mixing every 10 minutes.
  3. Mix dry ingredients. Blend in butter. Set aside ⅔ of mixture for bottom crust and ⅓ for topping.
  4. Bake bottom crust for five minutes or until golden brown at 300° F.
  5. Add filling and top with remaining ⅓ mixture.
  6. Bake crumble and filling at 300° F for 35 minutes, let it cool for 30 minutes.

Contact Information

Donalyn Dela Cruz

Phone: 808-586-3232



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