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Lifestyle // Proof Positive
MidWeek Staff

Alleviating Hunger And Poverty

By Patti Chang, CEO, and Denise Albano, president, Feed The Hunger Foundation

A Laotian woman on the North Shore worked planting vegetables and flowers for many years to support her five children. With a small loan from Feed The Hunger Foundation (FTHF), she was able to employ another farmer, who also received a small loan to raise fish. When her first loan was repaid, she received a second loan to continue to expand her business.

FTHF partners with people such as these. Denise Albano and Patti Chang established FTHF four years ago. FTHF’s mission is to alleviate hunger and poverty through microfinance – small loans to poor people that enable them to become producers and entrepreneurs.

FTHF’s “Food For Thought” program promotes a vision of Hawaii residents reconnected to the practice of farming that will meet the food needs of the community, and will provide jobs, increase the community’s self-reliance and build a more sustainable future. For although there is a rich supply of agricultural lands in Hawaii, the state only produces between 10 and 15 percent of the food that is consumed and exports approximately 80 percent of what it grows.

Nonetheless, there is a growing number of individuals who want to be part of a sustainable food system – a system less at risk to fluctuations in oil prices, that embraces renewable energy, that recognizes the importance of biodiversity, that helps farmers get back to working the land, and that realizes the industrialized food industry has led to the degradation of our health and planet. This movement has been behind the increase in interest in local food, farmers markets, organic produce, school gardens and nutrition education.

Through its loan program to 35 borrowers in Hawaii, FTHF is joining this effort toward a sustainable Hawaii by ensuring that low-income communities and individuals are a part of the creation and development of a food system that works for all – a food system that is environmentally sound, cost-efficient, land-efficient and healthier. This coming year, FTHF will be lending an additional $1 million in loan capital to further greater food self-sufficiency for our Islands. FTHF also makes loans globally in Nepal, China, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nicaragua and soon will be lending in the Philippines.

FTHF’s greatest challenge is raising money to cover operation costs. Networks and technical assistance are needed to reach out to communities and individuals throughout the state and to work with them to be the best businesses that they can be. FTHF welcomes contributions and investments of all sizes. Visit feed-hunger.com, email pattichang@feed-hunger.com or call (415) 793-2429.

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