In celebration of October as National Farm to School Month, nearly 60 Hawai‘i public schools incorporated locally grown ‘uala (sweet potato) in school lunches for students and staff. The meal featured a Halloween-inspired “monster mash” recipe featuring Okinawan sweet potatoes.
This effort builds on the Hawai‘i State Department of Education’s goal of increasing local menu offerings to students.
“‘Uala is a great substitute for any starch in a meal,” said HIDOE dietitian Lindsay Nakamura. “It grows abundantly in Hawai‘i’s soil and can be purchased at local grocery stores relatively all year long. It's a very versatile vegetable that can make any plate fun and colorful.”
The Department purchased approximately 2,500 lbs. of ‘uala from several local farmers, including Jian Jun Zhang and Kendall Van located in Hāmākua on Hawai‘i island, and Robert Mata’s Oby's Farm in Waikapū, Maui.
Some participating schools served the local ‘uala alongside kalua pork with cabbage, lomi tomato and fruits, as pictured below. Other schools adapted menus including roast turkey, baked chicken or chicken tenders to incorporate ‘uala.
As the state’s largest institutional consumer of food products, serving over 100,000 students a day, the Department’s farm-and-school initiative aims to enhance food sustainability in Hawai‘i, and aligns with Act 175, which focuses on improving the health of students while supporting local farmers.