Improving Hawaii’s Food Systems

By Ashley Lukens, Board of Directors, Hawaii Food Policy Council

In November of 2010, more than 75 people assembled at Church of the Crossroads in Honolulu with the desire to make positive changes in Hawaii’s food system. The attendees were chefs, foodies, farmers and gardeners. Some advocated for improving the health and nutrition of Hawaii’s people. Others were fighting for more sustainable food and agricultural practices. Their differences brought them strength together. As the beginnings of Hawaii Food Policy Council (HFPC), they agreed to build a healthier food system in Hawaii through education, analysis, networking and project facilitation.


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In its first year, HFPC hosted four community forums and a teach-in. Each was attended by more than 100 people and included high-powered food and ag advocates such as Department of Agriculture director Russell Kokubun, Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz, and many of Hawaii’s farmers, chefs, community organizations and food/ag leaders.

For this legislative session, the council teamed up with Kanu Hawaii, the Sierra Club and Kokua Hawaii Foundation to draft HB2703. This food self-sufficiency bill recently moved from the House to the Senate, and commits the state to doubling the amount of food grown locally by 2020.

Today, HFPC consists of an interim board of directors, which is in the process of developing an organizational structure that can best address the very serious challenges Hawaii’s food system faces. Since its inception, the council’s board has secured more than $50,000 in funding from the Hawaii People’s Fund, Kaiser Permanente, the Small Planet Fund and private donors. The council’s primary project is to complete a Stakeholder Resource Database template, which will begin the project of identifying and mapping Hawaii’s many food system stakeholders. This publicly accessible database will help define our food system, provide data and present networking opportunities for all who are interested.

HFPC also is currently running a reciprocal funding campaign through the popular crowd-funding site, IndieGOGO.

Perks for offered donations include a Farm-to-Table dinner with Chef Mark Noguchi at MA’O Farms, a collaborative cooking class with Chef Leslie Ashburn and a movie/dinner night at Sweet Home Waimanalo. You can learn more at

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