22 New Cases of Hepatitis A – Oahu Outbreak Up to 74 Cases

The Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH) is investigating a cluster of hepatitis A infections on Oahu.  HDOH staff are conducting interviews with the cases in an effort to identify the source of infection.

Department of Health

Identifying the source of infection continues to be a challenge because of the long incubation period of the disease and the difficulty patients have in accurately recalling the foods consumed and locations visited during the period when infection could have taken place.

Healthcare providers have been informed and are asked to notify HDOH immediately if they have a patient they suspect may be infected.

Individuals who are interested in being vaccinated should contact their healthcare providers.

As of July 20, 2016*:

Since the last update, HDOH has identified 22 new cases of hepatitis A.  All cases have been in adults, 26 have required hospitalization.

All of the cases are residents of Oahu with the exception of two individuals who now live on the islands of Hawaii and Maui, respectively, but were on Oahu during their exposure period.

CONFIRMED CASES OF HEPATITIS A
74

Onset of illness has ranged between 6/12/16 – 7/14/16.

Contacts of Cases

Unvaccinated contacts of cases should talk to their healthcare providers about the possibility of receiving hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin, which may provide some protection against the disease if administered within the first two weeks after exposure.

A contact is defined as:

  • All unvaccinated household members
  • All unvaccinated sexual contacts
  • Anyone sharing illicit drugs with a case
  • Anyone sharing food or eating or drinking utensils with a case
  • Anyone consuming ready-to-eat foods prepared by an infectious food handler with diarrhea or poor hygiene

Note: A food handler is any person who directly prepares, serves, or handles food.

Places of Interest

An employee of the following food service business(es) has been diagnosed with hepatitis A. This list does not indicate these businesses are sources of this outbreak; at this time, no infections have been linked to exposure to these businesses. The likelihood that patrons of these businesses will become infected is very low. However, persons who have consumed food or drink products from these businesses during the identified dates of service should contact their healthcare provider for advice and possible preventive care.

Establishment Location Dates of Service
Baskin-Robbins Waikele Center June 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 25, 27, 30, and July 1 and 3, 2016
Taco Bell Waipio (94-790 Ukee Street) June 16, 17, 20, 21, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30, and July 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 11, 2016

Hepatitis A — Information and Resources

Early Bird Discounts Available for 26th Annual Hawaii International Tropical Fruit Conference

The 26th Annual Hawaii International Tropical Fruit Conference is September 30-October 7, starting at the Kauai Beach Resort and then traveling to Oahu, Molokai, Hilo and Kona for mini-conferences. All attendees registering before August 1 enjoy a discounted fee of $50; visit HTFG.org to register online with paypal; conference and membership forms can also be found on the website.

htfg 2016Geared to farmers, educators, orchard managers and proponents of sustainable agriculture, the eight-day event is presented by the statewide Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers (HTFG) and open to the public.

The conference is titled “Achieving Critical Mass” and offers a lineup of visiting researchers and agro experts sharing information and breakout sessions on a variety of topics. They include Dr. John Yonemoto on “Growing and Harvesting the Best Avocados!” and “Increasing Production,” Diane Ragone on “Ulu,” Robert Paull on “Harvest and Post-Harvest” and Peter Follett on “Market Access: Getting Fruit Approved and Shipped Out of State.”

HTFG Executive Director Ken Love says Kauai activities include USDA and NASS updates, a report and survey on specialty crops, Sunday tours with Scott Sloan of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, networking and fruit tasting.

Registration forms and fee schedule are available at www.HTFG.org or by contacting Love at kenlove@hawaiiantel.net or Mark Suiso at suiso@aloha.net.

Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers: Marking its 27th year, HTFG was incorporated in 1989 to promote tropical fruit grown in Hawaii. It is a statewide association of tropical fruit growers, packers, distributors and hobbyists dedicated to tropical fruit research, education, marketing and promotion; www.HTFG.org.

Hawaii Coffee Association Hosts 21st Annual Conference and 8th Annual Statewide Cupping Competition

Coffee industry professionals from across the state assembled July 13-15 for the Hawaii Coffee Association’s (HCA) 21st Annual Conference and 8th Annual Statewide Cupping Competition at Courtyard Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel located in the heart of the world-famous Kona Coffee Belt. A robust program of presenters included numerous state and federal researchers, regulators, agencies as well as an ample trade show.

Previous cupping winners Tommy and Beth Greenwell with Hawaii News Now’s Howard Dicus.

Cupping winners Tommy and Beth Greenwell with Hawaii News Now’s Howard Dicus.

Activities included tours of area farms and processing facilities, and an optical sorter demonstration. Workshops covered coffee brewing, cupping, processing for quality and social media training. Presenters from Hawaii’s Department of Agriculture, USDA, Hawaii Agricultural Research Center, Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center and University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources were on hand to offer updates and answer questions. TV and radio personality Howard Dicus took the stage to share his witty commentary and predictions surrounding economic and other current trends.

In the cupping competition, 83 entries from growing districts located across the state competed for top honors in two categories: Creative and Commercial. Qualifying for the Commercial division means at least 1,000 lbs. of the coffee entered is available for sale.

Competing in the Creative division, the top-scoring coffee was produced by Greenwell Farms with their Pacamara varietal with a score of 84.8. The top scoring coffee in the Commercial division was a Margogype variety produced by Aloha Hills Kona Coffee LLC with a score of 83.4.

The highest scoring entries from other participating Hawaiian coffee origins also earned honors including Hawaii District’s Second Alarm Farm (84.2), Maui’s Olinda Farms (84.3), Ka’u District’s The Rising Sun (84.2), and Kauai’s Moloa’a Bay Coffee (83.1). Visit hawaiicoffeeassoc.org for a full list of qualifying entries and scores.

HCA’s cupping committee chair, David Gridley of Maui, said, “75 coffees scored 80 and above. It’s amazing how the coffees keep getting better and better. I congratulate all the coffee farmers of Hawai‘i for their remarkable efforts.”

Veteran cupper Shawn Hamilton noted an ongoing increase in scores. “It’s a great trend. There were so many great coffees [competing] it makes our job harder.” Fellow cupper Warren Muller added, “We’re really proud of all the great work the farmers are doing. It’s very exciting for us.”

Coffee cupping is a combination of art and science where coffees are evaluated and scored based on subtle characteristics including, flavor, aroma, ‘mouth-feel’, acidity, sweetness and aftertaste.

HCA membership gathered to elect their new board and officers. The new president is Chris Manfredi (Ka’u Farm & Ranch Co., LLC), vice president is Ralph Gaston (Isla Custom Coffees), treasurer is Adrian Guillen (Hawaiian Queen Coffee) and secretary is Gloria Biven (Royal Kona Visitor Center Mill & Museum).

The new board of directors features broad representation spanning a variety of business disciplines within the coffee industry including Big Island Coffee Roasters, Greenwell Farms, Heavenly Hawaiian Coffee, Hawaii Coffee Growers Association, Hula Daddy Kona Coffee, Ka’u Coffee Mill, Kauai Coffee Company LLC, Kona Coffee Council, Kona Mountain Coffee, Monarch Coffee and UCC-Hawaii.

Incoming President Manfredi shared, “I’m humbled and honored by the vote of confidence made by the members. I hope to fulfill their expectations by working hard to strengthen our industry and, by extension, the businesses, employees and families that depend on high quality Hawaiian coffees.”

The Hawaii Coffee Association’s mission is to represent all sectors of the Hawaii coffee industry, including growers, millers, wholesalers, roasters and retailers. The HCA’s primary objective is to increase awareness and consumption of Hawaiian coffees.  A major component of HCA’s work is the continuing education of members and consumers. Its annual conference has continued to grow, gaining international attention.

Learn more about the HCA at www.hawaiicoffeeassoc.org

Learn more about the Hawaii coffee industry at hawaiicoffeeindustry.com

Hepatitis A Infection in Taco Bell Employee

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed a new case of hepatitis A infection in a food service employee. The employee worked at the fast food restaurant, Taco Bell, located in Waipio at 94-790 Ukee Street.

94-790 Ukee Street, Waipio, HI

94-790 Ukee Street, Waipio, HI

The department is advising persons who consumed any food or drink products from this store from June 16 through July 11, 2016 (actual dates: June 16, 17, 20, 21, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30, and July 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 11) that they may have been exposed to the disease.

Unvaccinated individuals should contact their healthcare providers about the possibility of receiving hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin, which may provide some protection against the disease if administered within the first two weeks after exposure.

“It is important to note that neither the Waikele Baskin-Robbins nor the Waipio Taco Bell have been identified as the source of infection for this outbreak,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park. “These are merely places where the victims were employed. The likelihood that patrons of these food establishments will become infected is very low, but to prevent possible additional cases, we are notifying the public so they may seek advice and help from their healthcare providers.”

Additional food service establishments may be affected as the number of cases continues to grow. Individuals, including food service employees, exhibiting symptoms of hepatitis A should stay home and contact their healthcare provider. All food service employees should strictly adhere to good handwashing and food handling practices.

Symptoms of hepatitis A infection include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, diarrhea, and yellow skin and eyes.

While vaccination provides the best protection, frequent handwashing with soap and warm water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, and before preparing food can help prevent the spread of hepatitis A. Appropriately cooking foods can also help prevent infection.

Additional information about hepatitis A can be found on the DOH website at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/hepatitis-a-outbreak-2016/.

For a list of vaccinating pharmacies, visit http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/files/2013/07/IMM_Adult_Resource_List.pdf or call the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1

Mahiʻai Match-Up Selects Farming Finalists

Two finalists have been selected in the 2016 Mahiʻai Match-Up agricultural business plan contest dedicated to supporting Hawaiʻi’s sustainable food movement by cultivating local farmers and decreasing the state’s dependence on imports.

The contest is sponsored by Kamehameha Schools, the Pauahi Foundation, the Ulupono Initiative, “Hawaiʻi Farm and Food” Magazine and Hiʻilei Aloha.

Kaivao Farm team members Keone Chin, Angela Fa‘anunu, and Kalisi Mausio pay a visit to their Mahiʻai Match-Up land parcel in Pāhoehoe on Hawai‘i island. The team plans to cultivate cassava and ‘ulu at their farm and will include education and internship components in their program.

Kaivao Farm team members Keone Chin, Angela Fa‘anunu, and Kalisi Mausio pay a visit to their Mahiʻai Match-Up land parcel in Pāhoehoe on Hawai‘i island. The team plans to cultivate cassava and ‘ulu at their farm and will include education and internship components in their program.

This year’s Mahiʻai Match-Up finalists are Kaiaʻulu o Paʻalaʻa on Oʻahu and Kaivao Farm on Hawai‘i island.  Both finalists will receive an agricultural land agreement with up to five years of waived rent from Kamehameha Schools.

Farmer Rob Barreca is a proprietor of Counter Culture Foods, one of last year's Mahiʻai Match-Up winners. His North Shore business specializes in seed-to-countertop fermented food production.

Farmer Rob Barreca is a proprietor of Counter Culture Foods, one of last year’s Mahiʻai Match-Up winners. His North Shore business specializes in seed-to-countertop fermented food production.

Judges this year include Kāʻeo Duarte, vice president of Community Engagement and Resources for Kamehameha Schools; Kyle Datta, general partner for Ulupono Initiative; Martha Cheng, editor for “Hawaiʻi Farm and Food” magazine; Martha Ross, capacity-building manager for Hiʻilei Aloha; and Mark “Gooch” Noguchi, executive chef for the Pili Group.

In July, the finalists will have a chance to present their plans in front of the judging panel. Based on the quality of both the business plans and presentations, seed monies from the Pauahi Foundation will be awarded in the amounts of $20,000 and $15,000 for first and second place.

 Tickets and sponsorships for the July 30 Mahiʻai Match-Up Gala are available at www.pauahi.org.

Tickets and sponsorships for the July 30 Mahiʻai Match-Up Gala are available at www.pauahi.org.

Seed monies awarded help to make these winning business plans a reality and increase the probability of long-term, sustainable success.

“Mahiʻai Match-Up provides a venue for farmers and entrepreneurs to access some of our most valuable agricultural lands,” said Sydney Keliʻipuleʻole, senior director of Statewide Operations for Kamehameha Schools.

“The goal of Mahiʻai Match-Up directly aligns with our Agriculture Plan to help make Hawaiʻi more self-sufficient by increasing local food production.”

The Mahiʻai Mentorship
Working to help mahi (cultivate) new farmers and integrate education, culture, agriculture and sustainability, KS is providing more opportunities for aspiring farmers with the introduction of Mahiʻai Mentorship – created through a partnership between the schools and GoFarm Hawaiʻi, aimed at developing the next generation of farmers.

The The first- and second-place winners and mentees will be announced at the Mahiʻai Match-Up Gala on July 30.  Proceeds from the event go towards agricultural scholarships and grants. Anyone interested in attending the Gala or becoming a sponsor can get more information by visiting the Mahiʻai Match-Up website.  Sponsorship deadline is July 11.

Hepatitis A Infection in Oahu Baskin-Robbins Employee – 52 Cases Now Reported

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) is investigating a confirmed case of hepatitis A in a food service employee at the ice cream specialty store, Baskin-Robbins, located at the Waikele Center in Waipahu. The department is advising persons who consumed any food or drink products from this store between June 17 and July 3, 2016 (actual dates: June 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 25, 27, 30, and July 1 and 3) they may have been exposed to the disease.
Baskin Robbins
Unvaccinated individuals should contact their healthcare providers about the possibility of receiving hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin, which may provide some protection against the disease if administered within the first two weeks after exposure.

This individual is one in a growing number of ill reported to DOH. Since the outbreak began, there have been 52 cases of hepatitis A reported to and now confirmed by DOH. All cases have been in adults on Oahu, 16 have required hospitalization. The department issued a Medical Advisory to all healthcare providers on June 30 urging them to be vigilant and report all suspected hepatitis A infection immediately.

“The source of this outbreak has still not been determined. In the meantime, we encourage all persons consider and talk to their healthcare provider about getting vaccinated,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park. “This case demonstrates the potential to spread hepatitis A virus to many others who remain susceptible. In an effort to stem the spread of disease, individuals, including food service employees, exhibiting symptoms of hepatitis A infection should stay home and contact their healthcare provider.”

Symptoms of hepatitis A infection include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, diarrhea, and yellow skin and eyes, and typically last several weeks to as long as two months. Treatment of hepatitis A is supportive, and most people will recover without complications.

While vaccination provides the best protection, frequent handwashing with soap and warm water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, and before preparing food can help prevent the spread of hepatitis A. Appropriately cooking foods can also help prevent infection.

Hepatitis A vaccine is readily available at local pharmacies. Two doses of hepatitis A vaccine, given at least six (6) months apart, are needed for lasting protection. For a list of vaccinating pharmacies, visit http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/files/2013/07/IMM_Adult_Resource_List.pdf or call the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1.

Additional information about hepatitis A can be found on the DOH website at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/dib/disease/hepatitis-a/.

Tacos, Chips, Salsa…. and Madie Greene for County Council District 4

UPDATE: 

Aloha to All!!! With the incoming Tropical Storm expected to arrive soon, Aunty Madie has decided to reschedule her Fundraiser until the following Saturday. Sal Luquin has already reserved the date for Madie, 6pm, Saturday, July 30th at the Akebono. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Please be safe out there and be prepared.

Mahalo for your understanding…

Folks are invited to a tacos, chips and salsa fundraiser for County Council Candidate Madie Green on Saturday, July 23rd at the Akebono Theater in Pahoa.
Madie Green FundraiserA suggested donation of $15.00 will go to her campaign funds.

Hepatitis Outbreak on Oahu Continues

Additional cases of hepatitis A infection have been reported to the Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH), increasing the number of confirmed cases to 31.  DOH staff worked through the holiday weekend to conduct interviews with the newly identified cases in an effort to identify the cause of infection.

Hepatitis A Facts“Identifying the source of infection is a challenge,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park. “Hepatitis A has a long incubation period lasting anywhere from two weeks to as long as 50 days.

Accurately recalling all of the foods consumed and locations visited during the period when infection could have taken place is challenging for many, especially those who are still feeling ill.” Patients infected with hepatitis A virus are most contagious during the week before the symptoms start until at least one week after the start of  the first symptoms.

“Since people are contagious before they feel ill, we are very concerned about the disease unknowingly being spreading to others,”said Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler.

The virus is found in the stool of people with hepatitis A infection and is usually spread by eating contaminated food or drinking water, and can be spread through close personal or sexual contact. A person who has hepatitis A can easily pass the disease to others within the same household.

For this reason, DOH investigators are currently reaching out to individuals who were in contact with those who have or had hepatitis A. Hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin (a substance made from human blood plasma that contains antibodies to protect the body against diseases) administered within the first two weeks after exposure may provide some protection against the disease.

Unvaccinated individuals recently exposed to the disease are encouraged to talk to their healthcare providers about these preventive measures.

DOH continues to encourage the public to review their immunization record and talk to their healthcare provider about vaccination.

For a list of vaccinating pharmacies, visit http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/files/2013/07/IMM_Adult_Resource_List.pdf or call the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1.

While vaccination provides the best protection, frequent hand washing with soap and warm water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, or before preparing food can help prevent the spread of Hepatitis A. Appropriately cooking and preparing foods can also help prevent infection.

Additional information about hepatitis A can be found on the DOH website at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/dib/disease/hepatitis-a/.

Farm to School Initiative Asks Farmers to Submit Bids

The Farm to School Initiative is seeking qualified farmers and vendors to submit bids to deliver fresh fruit and vegetables to various Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) schools statewide.  Local farmers are encouraged to submit their bids by July 13.  The invitation for bids (IFB) can be found at http://spo3.hawaii.gov/notices/notices/ifb-d17-005.

Farm to foodSpearheaded by Lt. Governor Shan Tsutsui, the HIDOE and Department of Agriculture are working collaboratively on the Initiative.  The goal is to address the supply and demand issues surrounding the purchasing of local food for our school cafeterias.  The Initiative also aims to systematically increase State purchasing of local food for our school menus as well as connect our keiki with their food through the use of products from the local agricultural community.

“With Hawaii importing about 85 percent of our food, the Farm to School Initiative is one way we are working towards becoming food sustainable in our state,” said Lt. Governor Tsutsui.  “While supporting local farmers and our economy, we are also feeding our students with locally-grown fresh fruit and vegetables.”

HIDOE has 256 public schools and its School Food Services Branch feeds approximately 100,000 students and staff each day.

“We’ve made it a priority to purchase local produce, however, our options have been limited,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “We are hopeful that this initiative will allow for more locally-based products to be used in our schools’ food services while keeping costs reasonable.”

“We encourage local farmers to participate in this program,” said Scott Enright, Chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “One of the challenges farmers face is the uncertainty of supply and demand and this program will help farmers plan and grow their crops with the knowledge that there will be a market for their produce.  In addition, keiki will be able to grow up with an appreciation of locally grown fruits and vegetables.”

Across the nation, farm to school programs are reconnecting students to a better understanding of the food system and where their food comes from.  Farm to school programs introduce students to healthier eating habits and help them become familiar with new vegetables and fruits that they and their families will then be more willing to incorporate into their own diets.

In April, the Farm to School Initiative gathered information from farmers and ranchers as well as hosted a mixer to inform them on how to become a qualified vendor with the State.  Those events, including the IFB, culminates with the Farm to School Initiative Pilot Project, which is expected to begin in 2017.

Food Producers Invited to Exhibit at Taste of the Hawaiian Range

Local food producers are invited to display and sample their product at the 21st annual Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range and Agricultural Festival on Friday, Sept. 9 at the Hilton Waikoloa Village.

Taste Kam Item

The state’s premiere ag showcase again offers a free opportunity for Hawai‘i farmers, ranchers and food producers to hookup with participating chefs and attendees during the 6-8 p.m. Taste.

The event is also open for agricultural and sustainability-themed organizations wanting to present informational displays.

Producers and ag-related educational organizations interested in participating may signup online at www.tasteofthehawaiianrange.com or by contacting Jill Beaton at tasteexhibitors@gmail.com or 808-937-0314. The deadline is July 31.

Taste headlines 30-some statewide chefs who dazzle diners using various cuts of forage-fed meats and a cornucopia of island fruits, vegetables and other farm products. Also on tap is a 3 p.m. culinary activity, “Cooking Pasture-Raised Beef 101,” presented by chefs Kevin Hanney and Jason Schoonover of the award-winning 12th Ave. Grill.

taste2Pre-sale tickets for Taste are $45 and $60 at the door. Entry to Cooking 101 is $10. Tickets are for sale online and available starting July 1 at Kuhio Grille in Hilo, Kamuela Liquors and Parker Ranch Store in Waimea, Kona Wine Market in Kailua-Kona and Kohala Essence Shop at the Hilton Waikoloa Village. Purchase tickets online at www.TasteoftheHawaiianRange.com.

Watch for ticket giveaways on Facebook at Taste of the Hawaiian Range and Twitter #TasteHI.

For general event information, phone 808-322-4892.

Anyone who requires an auxiliary aid or service for effective communication or a modification of policies and procedures to participate in this event should contact 808-322-4892 no later than August 9, 2016.

Taste Hayden

Hawai‘i residents eager to savor the flavors of the Taste can take advantage of Hilton Waikoloa Village’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range Package with rates starting at $239 + tax per room on Friday, Sept. 9, 2016. This Kama‘aina Special also includes two tickets to the Taste of the Hawaiian Range. Guests must show valid Hawai‘i state ID at checkin and must have Hawai‘i address in reservation. Pre- and post-event hotel room prices start at $149 plus tax per room, per night, based on availability. To book an overnight stay at Hilton Waikoloa Village under an exclusive Taste of the Hawaiian Range room package (code TSH), visit www.hiltonwaikoloavillage.com/kamaaina, or https://secure3.hilton.com/en_US/hi/reservation/book.htm?hotel=KOAHWHH&spec_plan=TSH&arrivaldate=20151009 or call 1-800-HILTONS.

Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range and Agriculture Festival provides a venue for sustainable agricultural education, plus encouragement and support of locally produced ag products. The premiere ag-tourism event is a partnership between CTAHR, Hawaii Cattlemen’s Association, Hawaii Cattlemen’s Council, Kulana Foods, Hawaii Beef Producers, UH-Hilo CAFNRM, County of Hawaii Dept. on Environmental Management and community volunteers. Sponsorship also includes Hawaii County Research and Development, Hawaii Community College Food Service & Culinary Program, Kamehameha Schools, KTA SuperStores, West Hawaii Today and Pacific Radio Group. The quality and growth of this event are rooted in business participation, sponsorship and in-kind donations. For more information, visit www.TasteoftheHawaiianRange.com.

Kohala Mountain Educational Farm Summer Festival

The Kohala Mountain Educational Farm (KMEF) invites the public to celebrate at its 1st Annual Summer Farm Festival, July 23 – 31, from 10am to 6pm daily.

Kohala MountainCome to the Kohala Mountain Educational Farm for an incredible fun-filled event featuring tractor-pulled hayrides, a jumping pad, a petting zoo, pony rides, face painting, and carnival games. There will be you-pick vegetables in the field for harvest – fun for the whole family!

The festival will host a line-up of local musicians, including Mikey Hooser. Delicious foods including hot off the grill burgers & hot dogs and shave ice will be available for sale. Admission & Parking is Free. Activities are priced per activity with prices ranging from $5 – $9 per activity. Picnics are welcome.

Directions: Take Kohala Mountain Road (Highway 250) from Waimea towards Hawi. The farm is between Mile Marker 12 and 13 on Kohala Mountain Road. Farm entrance is on the left side of the road. For more information and event updates, visit www.kohalamountainpumpkinpatch.com or KMEF’s Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/kohalamountaineducationalfarm

 

 

Barbless Circle Hooks Angling for Converts – 13th Annual Tokunaga Ulua Challenge

At Sunday’s 13th annual Tokunaga Ulua Challenge Fishing Tournament weigh-in, you’d hear a call for “Mr. Barbless Hook.” That would be Kurt Kawamoto, a fisheries biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center.

fish tournamentKawamoto earned the moniker as the driving force behind the NOAA and DLNR Barbless Circle Hook Project. Each time a fish caught with a barbless circle hook weighed in, Kawamoto stepped forward to slap a special sticker on it, and hopefully to see a new record. Since initiating the program more than a decade ago, ulua and other fish caught by shoreline fishermen with barbless hooks have weighed in at one hundred pounds or more; winning more than just a few tournaments.

The Tokunaga tournament has grown from 136 entrants in 2003 to 637 this year. It’s estimated more than 50% of the contestants catch their fish using barbless circle hooks. In 2015, the winning ulua was caught with a barbless hook. This year, the winning omilu was caught by a woman fishing barbless.

Making a barbless hook is really simple. You use a pair of pliers to smash down the barb. Kawamoto explains, “Once you smash down the barbs on these hooks they become self-shedding, so that was the main idea behind it. It’s easy for a fish, or a seal or a turtle to get rid of the hook themselves.” Researchers have witnessed a monk seal actually shed a barbless circle hook and anglers have relayed stories about sea turtles also easily expelling barbless hooks.

Fish Tournament 2Although it’s easier for animals to rid themselves of the hooks, research, angler reports, and actual catches with barbless circle hooks have proved their efficacy when it comes to catching target fish. During a shoreline research project, fishers used two poles; one with a barbed hook, the other with a barbless one. Kawamoto said, “We caught over 300 shoreline fish, of many different kinds. We looked at the catches, losses and misses and statistically we couldn’t tell the difference. Essentially you could catch just as many fish with a barbless circle hook.”

Michael Tokunaga, the organizer of the tournament, sponsored by his store, S. Tokunaga, regularly hosts DLNR outreach representatives from the Barbless Circle Hook Project. He would like to see acceptance of the barbless hooks for his tournament to grow to 75% or better. He said, “This is for conservation and releasing unwanted catches. It’s just a way of fishing smart. When you catch a fish, the hook is normally in the side of the mouth. The barb has nothing to do with it in my opinion.”

Fish Tournament 3After observing the Ulua Challenge last year, and entering this year, Carlo Russo of Pahoa fishes from the shoreline, using barbless circle hooks exclusively. He feels there’s absolutely no downside to using them. A few hours before the tournament weigh-in, fishing with a friend on the edge of Hilo Bay, he commented, “My experience with them has been 100% positive. I caught three papio’s, nice size papio’s on them, and didn’t lose any fish. Popped them right out; all perfectly caught in the corner of their mouths.” He also likes the fact that the barbless hooks keep bait fish alive longer, because they make a smaller hole, saying, “That’s a really big plus.”

The outreach team from the Barbless Circle Hook Project regularly attends fishing tournaments around the state to provide information, encouragement, and free barbless circle hooks. Kawamoto concluded, “Since starting the project I only use barbless hooks in my personal shoreline fishing and I’ve caught all the same species. I couldn’t in good conscience ask fisherman to try something that I don’t use or believe in myself. I have guys on every island who are only using barbless hooks and they’ve seen it doesn’t make a difference…and allows the big one that got away…to reproduce, to grow and possibly to be caught another day. This helps enhance the reputation of fishermen and women as practicing conservationists.”

Kona Drug Court Food Drive for Hawaii Island’s Food Bank

judiciaryThe Kona Drug Court has selected The Food Basket, Inc., “Hawai‘i Island’s Food Bank,” as the focus of its 2016 National Drug Court Month community service project, to give back to the charity that provides for Big Island residents in need, including children from low-income or homeless families, elderly, veterans, and many addicts in the early stages of recovery.

The Kona Drug Court asks the West Hawaii community to help support The Food Basket, Inc., by dropping off donations of non-perishable foods to Drug Court volunteers, who will be dressed in red t-shirts, in front of the KTA Super Store in Kailua-Kona.

For more information on Friday’s food drive please contact Grayson K. Hashida, Hawaii Island Drug Court Coordinator at (808) 443-2201.

  • WHAT: Kona Drug Court Food Drive for Hawaii Island’s Food Bank
  • WHO: The Kona Drug Court
  • WHEN: Friday May 27, 2016, from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • WHERE:    KTA Super Store Kailua-Kona, in the Kona Coast Shopping Center,  74-5594 Palani Road, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii


Big Island Chocolate Festival Names Winners

Culinary entries from Maui and the Big Isle were tapped winners at last night’s Big Island Chocolate Festival gala. A sold-out crowd of 600 attendees sprawled inside and out of the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel for the fifth annual fundraiser.

Volcano made of 40 pounds of fine chocolate by the Guittard Chocolate Company

Volcano made of 40 pounds of fine chocolate by the Guittard Chocolate Company

“Lavalicious-A Chocolate Salute to the 100th Birthday of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park” was the festival theme and the event gala sported booths decorated with sugary lava, chocolate volcanoes, orchids and faux flames. The culinary station by Sweet Eatz was judged “Best Decorated” by HVNP’s Cindy Orlando, park superintendent and Jessica Ferracane, public affairs specialist.

Chefs, chocolatiers and college students were critiqued on taste, texture, appearance and creativity by a team of celebrity judges at competitions during the two-day festival.

Big Island Choclate Festival gala and culinary student winners with judges.

Big Island Choclate Festival gala and culinary student winners with judges.

Winning the most culinary awards was Hilton Waikoloa Village led by Chef Dayne Tanabe for Best Savory and Chef Anna Hohenberger for Best Bonbon. The Hilton team also tied with Four Seasons Resort Hualalai for Best Sweet People’s Choice by Hilton Chef Eddie Enojardo and Hualalai’s Kalani Garcia.

Earning Best Plated Dessert was the Ke‘olu Bake Shop at Hualalai Resort and Huggo’s took home People’s Choice Savory. Other accolades were won by Madre Chocolate for Best Bean-to-Bar, Nine Fine Mynahs Farm for Best Cacao and Likao Kula for Best Criollo Bean.

The student team of Yi Song and Diana Maciel Hernandez of the University of Hawai‘i-Maui College took first place in the Friday student competition. Taking second place was Jolynn Len and Stella Rainville of Hawai‘i Community College-Palamanui while third place went to Alicia Alcain and Tomi Salinger of Hawai‘i Community College-Palamanui.

Second place student culinary winners Jolynn Len and Stella Rainville with HCC-Palamanui instructors Fernand Guiot and Mark Johnson.

Second place student culinary winners Jolynn Len and Stella Rainville with HCC-Palamanui instructors Fernand Guiot and Mark Johnson.

“Students performed at a really high level and we’re hoping to have more participation throughout the UH culinary programs next year,” said Teresa “Cheech” Shurilla, program coordinator for UH-Maui College. “We want to make it viable for all the schools to come and compete.”

Heading the team of chef judges for the two competitions were Donald Wressell of Guittard Chocolate Company, Derek Poirier of Valrohna Chocolate, Elizabeth McDonald of B3 a Beach Bunny Bakery, Ricky DeBoer of The Fairmont, Kea Lani; Steven Arakaki of Kukio Resort, Douglas Paul of Sodexo UH-Maui College, Pam Williams of Ecole Chocolat, Jacques Dahan of Michel Cluizel, Lincoln Carson, Yoshikazu Kizu of Rita Carlton Kapuala, Krista Garcia of UH-Maui College and Shurilla.

The real winners of the annual festival are two beneficiaries: the ACF Kona Kohala Chefs Assn./University of Hawai‘i endowment fund for the culinary program at Hawai‘i Community College-Palamanui and programs at Kona Pacific Public Charter School in Kealakekua.

Presented by the Kona Cacao Association, the Big Island Chocolate Festival not only heralds Hawai’i’s growing cacao industry, but also the culinarians who masterfully create foods featuring chocolate.

In addition to last night’s gala, the festival offered a full lineup of chocolate decadence from planting to plating: a Kona cacao farm tour, plus growing and processing seminars and how-to culinary demonstrations by chocolate industry experts.

Visit www.bigislandchocolatefestival.com for updates on next year’s event.

The Big Island Chocolate Festival is presented by the Kona Cacao Association, Inc. The mission and goal of KCA is to promote the cacao industry on the Big Island of Hawai‘i by presenting BICF as an educational and outreach opportunity for local cacao farmers, the hospitality industry and cacao enthusiasts. Mahalo to 2016 event sponsors Prova, Guittard Chocolate Company, Michel Cluizel, Republica Del Cacao, Valrohna USA, LUVA Real Estate-Lance Owens, Kona Auto Center, Dolphin Journeys, Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory, Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union, Amoretti, Barry Callebaut USA, Kokua Roofing, DHX, Cocoa Outlet, Kona Brewing Company, Young’s Market, The Wave 92 FM and Dole/Wailua Chocolate. For information, visit www.bigislandchocolatefestival.com. @BIChocoFest

First Annual Waipi’o Kalo Festival Coming Up

The first annual Waipi‘o Kalo Festival will take place on Saturday, June 4, 2016, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at Koa‘ekea, near the Waipi‘o Valley Lookout. Presented by the grassroots state-recognized nonprofit, Hā Ola O Waipi‘o Valley, the free event is a tribute to kalo (taro), Waipi’o, and the kupuna and others who live, work, and find inspiration there.

Waipio Valley Taro Festival

The Kalo Festival is designed to be educational as well as entertaining, and will include much that Hawai‘i Island loves: live music and hula, craft vendors, games and great food. In addition, there will be displays and talk story sessions about the region’s rich history, and its significance in Hawaiian culture.

Central to Hawaiian culture, kalo is considered the “older brother” of all Hawaiians. Legend says that a child named Hāloa was born to deities Wakea and Ho‘ohōkūkalani. Hāloa died at birth and was buried in the garden, where soon shoots of kalo plants began to grow. Their next child was named Hāloa in his honor, and to forever acknowledge the familial tie between people and nature.

Waipi‘o was home to many deities and notable ali‘i, and at its peak, the thriving agricultural community may have supported a population as high as 10,000 people. Waipi‘o is also a storied wahi pana, sacred place, site of seven important heiau (temples) including  Pāka‘alana, a pu‘uhonua, “place of refuge.”

The Kalo Festival is designed to be educational as well as entertaining, and will include much that Hawai‘i Island loves: live music and hula, craft vendors, games and great food. In addition, there will be displays and talk story sessions about the region’s rich history, and its significance in Hawaiian culture.

Every aspect of the Kalo Festival is connected to the Valley in some way. Presenters may come from multigenerational kalo farmers on ancestral lands; cultural practitioners appreciate its vast resources; artists and musicians, even chefs, are inspired by Waipi‘o for their creations.

Hands-on ku‘i kalo gives festival-goers a feel for the art of poi pounding, and other cultural activities like lei-making, lau hala and lau niu weaving are available. More competitive attendees can enter the Taro Team Relay, a fun obstacle course with a simulation of a typical taro farmer’s jobs.

On the scholarly side, agricultural exhibits and demonstrations offer a chance to learn about varieties of kalo and how they are cultivated, its preparation as food and nutritional/health benefits. Displays from USDA, DLNR, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), North Hawaii Education and Research Center (NHERC) and others cover a broad range of related topics, from healthy soils, to agro-forestry, the importance of water, and more.

For the foodies, a Kalo Cookoff offers prizes to home chefs who bring their best kalo pupu, main dish or dessert for a friendly competition with prizes. Any part of the kalo plant may be used in the dish. (To enter, please bring at least five portions for judges to taste. Kalo must be an ingredient.) Kalo Contest Winners will be announced after the Relay, and receive a Makana Basket and a Gift Certificate.

In addition, homestyle Hawaiian plate lunches will be available for sale, with kalua pig, laulau, squid lū‘au, chicken long rice, sweet potatoes, fernshoot salad, haupia, kulolo, poke and of course, poi.

Koa‘ekea (the former Rice property is located at 48-5546 Waipi‘o Valley Road, and event parking will be available at Kukuihaele Park, with free shuttles provided. No parking at the Lookout.

The schedule for the day includes:

  • 9 a.m. Gate opens. Opening Pule and Oli at 9:05 a.m.
  • 9:10 a.m. Hālau Na Lei Punahele, Kumu Hula Punahele Andrade
  • 10 a.m. Larry Miller and Jeff Quinn
  • 10:50 a.m. Hālau Kou Lima Nani E, Kumu Hula Iwalani Kalima
  • 11:50 a.m. Sons of Keawe
  • 1-1:50 p.m. Kalo Team Relay/Kalo Cookoff
  • 2 p.m. Rubbah Slippah Productions, Ryan Hiraoka
  • 2:50 p.m. Masoe ‘Ohana
  • 3:50 p.m. Closing Pule and Hawai‘i Aloha

The Kalo Festival is sponsored by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the County of Hawai‘i and other generous supporters. Friends of the Future and Pōhāhā I Ka Lani both serve as the fiscal sponsors for this project. For more information about the Kalo Festival, email HaolaoWaipioValley@gmail.com or follow Hā Ola O Waipio Valley on Facebook.

Joint Task Force Established to Combat Rat Lungworm Disease in Hawaii

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) and the East Hawaii Liaison to the Office of the Governor announced today the establishment of a Joint Task Force to assess the threat of rat lungworm disease (Angiostrongyliasis) in Hawaii. The mission of the task force is to share scientific knowledge in the application of diagnostics, treatment, mitigation and public education activities.

rat lungworm

Rat lungworm disease is caused by a nematode, which is a roundworm parasite called Angiostrongylus cantonensis. The parasitic nematode can be passed from the feces of infected rodents to snails, slugs and certain other animals, which become intermediate hosts for the parasite. Humans can become infected when they consume, either intentionally or otherwise, infected raw or undercooked intermediate hosts.

Although rat lungworm has been found throughout the state, Hawaii Island has a majority of the cases. Some infected people don’t show any symptoms or only have mild symptoms. For others, the symptoms can be much more severe, which can include headaches, stiffness of the neck, tingling or painful feelings in the skin or extremities, low-grade fever, nausea, and vomiting. Sometimes, a temporary paralysis of the face may also be present, as well as light sensitivity. This infection can also cause a rare type of meningitis (eosinophilic meningitis).

“Establishing a joint task force with local experts in the medical field and leaders in government will produce a set of best practices that be used to target rat lungworm disease not only on Hawaii Island, but on a statewide scale as well,” said Wil Okabe, East Hawaii Liaison to the Office of the Governor. “There is no specific treatment yet identified for this disease, so finding the best ways to prevent its spread and educate the public is crucial.”

The members of the task force are as follows:

  • Wil Okabe (Facilitator), East Hawaii Governor’s Liaison Office
  • Robert Cowie, Ph.D., Pacific Biosciences Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa
  • Robert Hollingsworth, Ph.D., U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Sue Jarvi, Ph.D., School of Pharmacy, University of Hawaii at Hilo
  • Jerry Kahana, Hawaii State Department of Agriculture
  • Kenton Kramer, Ph.D., Department of Tropical Medicine, John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM)
  • John Martell, M.D., Hilo Medical Center
  • Marian Melish, M.D., Pediatric Infectious Disease, Kapiolani Medical Center
  • Donn Mende, Research and Development, County of Hawaii
  • DeWolfe Miller, Ph.D., Tropical Medicine Microbiology and Pharmacology, JABSOM
  • Peter Oshiro, Sanitation Branch, DOH
  • Sarah Park, M.D., F.A.A.P., State Epidemiologist, DOH
  • Joanna Seto, Save Drinking Water Branch, DOH
  • Aaron Ueno, Hawaii District Health Office, DOH
  • Chris Whelen, Ph.D., State Laboratories Division, DOH
  • Jonnie Yates, M.D., Kaiser Permanente

Rotary Club of Pahoa Sunset’s 2016 Awards Banquet

About 100 folks filled the Akebono Theater in Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii last night as the Rotary Club of Pahoa Sunset had its 2016 Awards Banquet.

Mark and Alan

Mark Hinshaw and Alan “Santa” Lakritz

This year’s honorees for their outstanding service to the community were Mark Hinshaw for the Individual Award and the Corporate Award Recipient went to Bay Clinic Pahoa and the CEO Harold Wallace.

Bay Clinic Pahoa Staff

Bay Clinic Pahoa Staff

Bay Clinic Pahoa CEO Harold Wallace and Rotary Member Bob Johnson.

Bay Clinic Pahoa CEO Harold Wallace and Rotary Member Bob Johnson.

Elected dignitaries in attendance were State Senator Joy SanBuenaventura, Councilman Greggor Ilagan and Councilman Danny Paleka.  Also in attendance were County Council Candidates Madie Greene and Eileen O’hara.

Folks were able to bid on items donated by various community members and businesses.

Folks were able to bid on items donated by various community members and businesses.

A silent auction was held with items donated from Pahoa Ace Hardware, Photographer Alan Lakritz, Aloha All Natural Cleaning Service, Bank of Hawaii, Photographer Charlene Meyers, Christian Robinson’s Bamboo Zoo, Craig Watkins, Deborah Nichols, Geo Pacific LLC, Glen & Fran Calvert, Hilo Coffee Mill, Holly & Bob Johnson, Island Naturals, J Attig Anthuriums, Jungle Love, Kalani Retreat Center, Kua O Ka La Charter School, Lex Brodies and Pahoa Auto Parts.

Luquin’s Restaurant set up a taco bar for attendees and “The Gone Country Band” provided entertainment throughout the evening and the theme for the evening was “Cinco De Mayo x 2” (May 10th).

Rotary Club of Pahoa Sunset Mission Statement:

“In the spirit of Rotary’s 4-Way Test, our mission is to serve the local and global community and our club members by implementing dynamic programs that address current and emerging needs.  Our goal is to achieve meaningful results in an atmosphere of fun, fellowship, and aloha.”

Rotary Club of Pahoa

The Rotary Club of Pahoa Sunset Meets each Tuesday at the Akebono Theater.  Social “half” hour begins at 6:00 pm and the fun starts at 6:30 and all are welcome.  You can visit their website and “like” them on Facebook:  http://www.pahoasunsetrotary.org/ or https://www.facebook.com/Rotary-Club-of-Pahoa-Sunset-109607602431709/

Industry Experts Featured May 22 at Ka‘u Coffee College

Leaders of the specialty coffee industry are traveling to the state’s largest agricultural district this month to taste and see all the effort that goes into producing award-winning Ka‘u coffee during the Ka‘u Coffee Festival.

Local growers get info on a variety of coffee industry topics at the annual Ka’u Coffee Festival.

Local growers get info on a variety of coffee industry topics at the annual Ka’u Coffee Festival.

While meeting Ka‘u growers, the visiting experts lead seminars at the festival’s annual Ka‘u Coffee College May 22 at the Pahala Community Center. The Ka‘u Coffee College has proven to be a place of learning, sharing and networking—and has featured some of the industry’s leading professionals from around the globe. The 2016 program follows in this tradition with the theme, “Coffee Quality.”

“These seminars are designed to not only continue to brand and market Ka‘u as a premium coffee growing origin, but to help the growers’ bottom line,” explained event organizer Chris Manfredi.  “We understand the challenges of sustaining a profitable farming operation in Hawai‘i. These talks will certainly reinforce the exceptionally high quality for which Ka‘u coffee has become famous, but also ensure there is a steady supply of it. As we reach more markets, we need a solid supply of quality coffees to meet the increasing demand while ensuring growers remain profitable.”

The Ka’u Coffee College is part of the eighth annual Ka‘u Coffee Festival, spanning May 13-22, and culminating May 21-22 at the Pahala Community Center. Coffee professionals learn first-hand about the Ka‘u coffee community in the days leading up to the May 21st ho‘olaule‘a, which includes guided tastings, farm tours and the opportunity to “talk story” with growers at their booths.

“The Ka‘u Coffee College is the last, but certainly not the least event,” adds Manfredi.

Topics covered at this year’s college include integrated pest management, CBB (coffee berry borer) and coffee quality’s impact on price.

“Six Years of Farming with CBB: Reflecting and Moving Forward” will be presented by Andrea Kawabata, assistant extension agent for coffee and orchard crops with the University of Hawai‘i CTAHR cooperative extension service and biologist Arturo Ballar Ortiz PSM, farm development and research director at Greenwell Farms. Working out of the Kona Research and Extension Center, Kawabata is the current project investigator for USDA and CTAHR Area-wide Mitigation and Management for CBB Control Project’s Outreach Program and cooperating investigator of the HDOA-funded Flat Bark Beetle Project.

Mike Perry will delve into “Coffee Quality’s Relationship to Price Sensitivity.” An award-winning roast master who blends a background in chemical engineering with a love for coffee, Perry is founder of Klatch Coffee in California.

“Falling Coffee, Falling Profits” will be discussed by Robert G. Hollingsworth, research entomologist of Hilo’s USDA-ARS-Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center and a specialist on coffee berry borer (CBB). Hollingworth’s research facilitated the deregulation of the GHA strain of Beauveria bassiana, the principal pesticide used to control CBB. Currently he is studying natural enemies of the pest, the effectiveness of sanitation methods and the influence of environmental factors on population growth and development.

Miguel Meza, owner and director of Paradise Coffee Roasters in Hawai‘i and Minnesota, teams up with Lee Paterson, owner of Hula Daddy Kona Coffee, to direct a coffee quality workshop, “Recognizing and Minimizing Coffee Defects.”

Admission to the 9 a.m.-pau Ka‘u Coffee College is free, though donations are appreciated.

All activities at the Ka‘u Coffee Festival are open to the general public; some require a fee. Find details at www.KauCoffeeFest.com. Call 808-929-9550 or visit www.KauCoffeeFest.com.

Big Island Chocolate Festival Begins Friday

chocolate fountain

While VIP and general admission tickets are sold out for the Big Island Chocolate Festival, the following ticket options are still available at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel:

  • A Chocolate Lovers One-Day Pass for May 14 that includes three culinary demonstrations with sampling 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., followed by general entry into the 5:30-9 p.m. gala. Price is $125.
  •  Fifty gala tickets will be sold at the door for $100 each starting 4:30 p.m. May 14.
  • Cacao agricultural seminars, focusing on farming cacao and its fermentation are 11 a.m.-2 p.m. May. 13. Price is $40 in advance or $30 each at the door.

Presented by the Kona Cacao Association (KCA), event proceeds benefit the ACF Kona Kohala Chefs Assn./University of Hawai‘i endowment fund for the culinary program at Hawai‘i Community College-Palamanui and programs at Kona Pacific Public Charter School in Kealakekua.

This year’s gala theme is “Lavalicious-A Chocolate Salute to the 100th Birthday of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.” Taste sweet and savory creations by chefs, chocolatiers, confectioners and beverage purveyors, plus vote for the People’s Choice Award. Also on tap will be fine wines, handcrafted ales and cocktails, chocolate sculptures, chocolate body painting, entertainment and a silent auction.

Find ticket info, including details on the event’s May 13-14 agricultural activities and culinary demonstrations, at www.BigIslandChocolateFestival.com.

Special room rates can be reserved directly at the hotel at www.HapunaBeachPrinceHotel.com/events.

The Big Island Chocolate Festival is presented by the Kona Cacao Association, Inc. The mission and goal of KCA is to promote the cacao industry on the Big Island of Hawai‘i by presenting BICF as an educational and outreach opportunity for local cacao farmers, the hospitality industry and cacao enthusiasts. Mahalo to 2016 event sponsors Prova, Michel Cluizel, Republica Del Cacao, Valrohna USA, LUVA Real Estate-Lance Owens, Kona Auto Center, Dolphin Journeys, Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory, Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union, Amoretti, Barry Callebaut USA, Kokua Roofing, DHX, Cocoa Outlet, Kona Brewing Company, Young’s Market, The Wave 92 FM and Dole/Wailua Chocolate. For information, visit www.bigislandchocolatefestival.com. @BIChocoFest

Hawaii Department of Education to Expand Free Meal Program to 30 Schools on Six Islands

This upcoming school year, the Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) will expand a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) free meal program, called the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), from seven public schools to 30 across the state. 

School Lunches

The CEP program allows a school district, a group of schools or a single school to serve free meals to all students even if they do not qualify for free or reduced-priced lunch reimbursements.

“We are pleased to be able to expand this program to more schools and include nearly every island with free meals,”stated Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “We’ve heard from parents in this year’s pilot project who say the program was a tremendous help for their families.”

The 23 additional schools being added to the program in school year 2016-17 are:

Kauai:

  • Kekaha Elementary

Hawaii Island:

  • Kau High & Pahala Elementary
  • Keaau Elementary
  • Keaau High
  • Keaau Middle
  • Keonepoko Elementary
  • Naalehu Elementary
  • Pahoa Elementary
  • Pahoa High

Maui:

  • Hana High & Elementary

Lanai:

  • Lanai High & Elementary

Oahu:

  • Leihoku Elementary
  • Maili Elementary
  • Makaha Elementary
  • Nanaikapono Elementary
  • Nanakuli Elementary
  • Nanakuli High & Intermediate
  • Olomana School
  • Pope Elementary
  • Waianae Elementary
  • Waianae High
  • Waianae Middle
  • Waimanalo Elementary & Intermediate

The seven schools in the pilot program will continue participating next year, including:

  • Kaunakakai Elementary School, Molokai
  • Kilohana Elementary School, Molokai
  • Maunaloa Elementary School, Molokai
  • Molokai Middle School, Molokai
  • Molokai High School, Molokai
  • Mountain View Elementary School, Hawaii Island
  • Linapuni Elementary School, Oahu

To qualify for the CEP program, a district, grouping or school must have a minimum of 40 percent or more of its students eligible for free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program.

Currently HIDOE pays an average of $5.50 a meal (including food costs, labor, utilities, etc.). The USDA reimburses the state $3.85 for students who qualify for a free meal and $0.40 for those paying for a meal. HIDOE charges $2.50 for elementary school meals for a total of $2.90 in recouped cost for the state. 

Under the program all students in the CEP school would qualify for the higher $3.85 reimbursement. While the seven schools will no longer be collecting meal monies and ensuring accounts have sufficient funds, families will be required to provide information for data collection.  

“Last year, we were able to launch this pilot project at seven schools to establish its impacts on finances and staffing,”said Assistant Superintendent Dann Carlson, Office of School Facilities and Support Services. “The response was positive and we are happy that this year we will be able to expand the program to all counties and include several new whole school complexes. This USDA program allows us to feed more students, for free, and do so in a way that does not increase the cost to the state.”

For more information about the USDA CEP program visit: http://1.usa.gov/1iP9FQI.  For details on HIDOE’s CEP pilot program, visit http://bit.ly/1Kh8SL1

HIDOE’s School Food Services Branch has a website that will provide families at schools that are not in the CEP program with the option to submit applications for Free and Reduced-Price Meal Benefits online. For more information visit http://bit.ly/1VX1OID.