25th Anniversary America’s Health Rankings Finds Hawaii Ranks No. 1 Among All U.S. States in Overall Health

25th Anniversary America’s Health Rankings Finds Hawaii Ranks No. 1 Among All U.S. States in Overall Health

Health Rankings

  • Hawaii’s strengths include low prevalence of obesity and low rate of preventable hospitalizations; state’s challenges include high prevalence of binge drinking and high incidence of infectious disease

Nationwide, reduction in smoking, and improvements in adolescent immunization and infant mortality offset by rising rates of obesity and physical inactivity

  • Long-term analysis finds Americans have made considerable progress in avoiding premature and cardiovascular deaths in the past 25 years; life expectancy at its highest yet

HONOLULU (Dec. 10, 2014) – Rising rates of obesity and physical inactivity threaten Americans’ quality of life, even as Americans progressed in several key health metrics in 2014, according to the landmark 25th Anniversary Edition of America’s Health Rankings®: A Call to Action for Individuals & Their Communities.

Nationwide, obesity increased 7 percent from 27.6 percent to 29.4 percent of adults. Likewise, the percentage of adults who reported not participating in any physical activity in the last 30 days increased from 22.9 percent to 23.5 percent. At the same time, the number of Americans who smoke continued to decrease, declining by 3 percent this year, and has consistently declined over the past decade.

Hawaii’s Overall Health

According to the special 25th Edition of America’s Health Rankings, Hawaii ranks No. 1 again this year when compared with other states. The 2014 report illustrates Hawaii has its share of strengths and challenges.

Hawaii’s Strengths

  • Low prevalence of obesity
  • Low rate of preventable hospitalizations
  • Low rate of cancer deaths

Hawaii’s Challenges

  • High prevalence of binge drinking
  • High incidence of infectious disease
  • Low immunization coverage among children

“Hawaii’s top ranking reflects our state’s focus on maintaining healthy lifestyles and protecting our environment,” said Acting Health Director Keith Yamamoto. “The department is pleased to see Hawaii has maintained its number- one spot from last year, however, the report also points out some areas of concern that we will continue to work to address.”

“This is encouraging news and I look forward to working with our public health and health care communities to ensure access to care and strengthen prevention efforts to reduce chronic disease and injury in our state,” Gov. David Y. Ige said. “I’m proud to say that Hawaii is the healthiest state in the nation, and we must continue to invest in our public health efforts.”

Key Hawaii Challenges Addressed by UnitedHealthcare Programs

UnitedHealthcare watches America’s Health Rankings closely to better understand the health of individuals and communities across the nation and in Hawaii. UnitedHealthcare has several programs to address the nation’s health challenges at a state level. These programs help educate people on how to live healthier lives and empower them to take action to improve health in their communities.

UnitedHealthcare’s efforts include supporting local health and community events throughout the Islands for children, families and seniors, and supporting organizations such as the local chapters of March of Dimes, YMCA and Alzheimer’s Association to help promote health and wellness for Hawaii residents.

“For the last 25 years, United Health Foundation’s annual America’s Health Rankings has provided an invaluable look at the challenges and opportunities facing Hawaii and how the picture of health in our state compares with those of our region and our nation,” said Ron Fujimoto, D.O., chief medical officer, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Hawaii. “We look forward to continuing to use the report as a key tool for identifying and implementing solutions to our most pressing challenges and measuring the strides we’ve made to date.”

UnitedHealthcare in Hawaii has more than 300 employees located on Oahu, Kauai, Maui and the Big Island with central offices in Honolulu. With a care provider network of 21 hospitals and more than 2,900 physicians statewide, the health and well-being company serves more than 230,000 Hawaii residents including members of the United States military and their families, and people enrolled in UnitedHealthcare’s Medicare and Medicaid health plans.

50-State Snapshot: Hawaii the Healthiest; Mississippi Least Healthy

Hawaii has again taken the title of healthiest state. Vermont came in second, followed by Massachusetts, which improved to third after being ranked fourth for two years. Connecticut came in fourth, rising three slots from last year. Utah came in fifth. Mississippi ranked 50th this year, preceded by Arkansas (49), Louisiana (48), Kentucky (47) and Oklahoma (46). West Virginia and Alabama moved out of the bottom five.

To see the Rankings in full, visit www.americashealthrankings.org.

Nationwide: Obesity and Physical Inactivity Increase after Short-Lived Improvements

“We applaud hard-won advances in several key measures, including smoking prevalence, even as this year’s America’s Health Rankings is a solemn reminder that we have a lot more work ahead of us,” said Reed Tuckson, M.D., senior medical adviser to United Health Foundation. “It is inevitable that increases in the rates of obesity and physical inactivity will result in more people suffering from significant chronic diseases that will compromise the quality of their lives, adversely affect their families and will be unaffordable for the nation.”

United Health Foundation is marking 25 years of America’s Health Rankings by introducing new online tools to inspire health advocacy across states and communities.

  • A “Change My Rank” online tool allows users to see how improving several key measures affects the state’s overall rank (for example, if a state reduced its prevalence of obesity by 5 percent, what would its overall rank be?).
  •  A Thought Leader Perspectives portal showcases notable leaders from the public health, government, academic, business, technology and consumer arenas reflecting on the achievements and challenges in America’s health over the last 25 years, and their thoughts for the next 25 years.

United Health Foundation will discuss the 25th edition Rankings at an event Wednesday, Dec. 10, at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. The event will feature remarks from leading health experts and thoughtful conversation about the past, present and future of America’s health. To watch the event live – and to get more information about America’s Health Rankings – visit www.americashealthrankings.org.

25th Anniversary Report Reveals Major Long-Term Health Strides, Challenges

With the launch of this year’s report, America’s Health Rankings commemorates 25 years of comprehensive health reporting and advocacy for a healthier America. The special 25th Anniversary America’s Health Rankings report finds Americans have made meaningful strides in health since 1990, particularly as it relates to life expectancy:

  • At 78.8 years, Americans’ average life expectancy is at a record high.
  • The past 25 years have seen considerable declines in:

o            infant mortality, decreasing 41 percent

o            cardiovascular death, decreasing 38 percent

o            premature death, decreasing  20 percent

  • U.S. cancer mortality rates have also shown a steady decline, dropping 8 percent between 1996 and 2014.

The decline in smoking rates stands out as a significant health improvement over the past 25 years. Since 1990, smoking rates have decreased 36 percent, from 29.5 percent to 19 percent of adults who smoke regularly. Cigarette smoking is still associated with one of every five deaths in the United States, making it the leading cause of preventable death in the country.

While Americans are living longer, the past 25 years have seen a steady rise in chronic conditions, many of them preventable, that compromise their quality of life.

  • Obesity – now a leading contributor to death in the United States – more than doubled over the last 25 years, from 11.6 percent of adults in 1990 to 29.4 percent of adults today. One possible explanation for the increase: levels of physical inactivity remain high, with 23.5 percent of adults reporting no physical activity or exercise in the last 30 days.
  • Adults who say they have diabetes currently stands at 9.6 percent, more than double the number from 20 years ago when America’s Health Rankings first started tracking diabetes.

“The challenge for the next 25 years is to achieve widespread, uniform success in fighting the chronic conditions that threaten Americans’ quality of life and adversely affect our nation’s health care system,” said Rhonda Randall, D.O., senior adviser to United Health Foundation and chief medical officer and executive vice president, UnitedHealthcare Retiree Solutions. “Obesity, diabetes and physical inactivity rates are troublingly high. We must continue to promote positive health behaviors and help prevent the devastating consequences of chronic illnesses that are often left unchecked.”

Big Island Resident Wins Big in McDonald’s Monopoly Game

It was Hilo resident Glen M.’s lucky day when he decided to play the 2014 MONOPOLY Game at McDonald’s. After ordering his Egg White Delight McMuffin®, Glen peeled off his third and final game piece to his winning combination of Atlantic Avenue, Ventnor Avenue and Marvin Gardens, that won him a family vacation to a Beaches Resort in Jamaica or Turks and Caicos.

monopoly“I didn’t know we won, until my wife took a double look at the game card and shouted ‘WE WON,’” said Glen M. of Hilo. “Both my wife and I contributed to this endeavor and ate at McDonald’s quite a bit because it was the best deal at a great value.”

This year, the MONOPOLY Game at McDonald’s returned for its 22nd season and delighted customers across the country with a wide range of prizes from partners such as Target, Redbox, Shell, VIZIO, Delta Air Lines, Shutterfly and Softcard, among others. There were four $100,000 prizes through the “Free Parking” Game Stamp, ten $5,000 Target Gift Cards with early access to the Black Friday in-store sale and one $1 million prize.

To play the game, consumers were able to collect game pieces on a wide variety of menu favorites.

“Our team was so excited to learn that we had a MONOPOLY winner close to home,” said Pat Lim, a McDonald’s Restaurants of Hawaii owner and operator. “We congratulate Glen and his family and look forward to hopefully another local winner in 2015.”

Glenn M. is not the only Hawaii player to win a McDonald’s sweepstakes game recently. Earlier this year, a Kihei, Maui resident was one of six winners of the “Peel. Play. Ole Ole!” sweepstakes and won an exclusive trip to the championship match of the FIFA World Cup on July 13 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Roy’s Restaurants to be Sold

Bloomin’ Brands, Inc., has announced an agreement for the sale of all of its interests in the Roy’s concept, including 20 company-owned restaurants, to United Ohana, LLC, a new company formed by Sunil Dharod. Dharod, President and Chief Executive Officer of Apple Texas and Apple Houston, is the owner and operator of 69 Applebee’s restaurants in Texas. The transaction is expected to close in the next 30-60 days.

roysRoy’s joined the Bloomin’ Brands portfolio in 2000. Roy’s was founded in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1988 by Chef Roy Yamaguchi and has become well-known for its Pacific Rim Cuisine – featuring the freshest local ingredients, European sauces and bold Asian spices with a focus on seafood. There are 29 Roy’s locations around the world – 21 in the continental United States, six in Hawaii, one in Japan and one in Guam.

Lazard acted as the exclusive financial advisor to Bloomin’ Brands on the sale of Roy’s.

Taste of the Hawaiian Range Opens One Hour Earlier

Fresh and nutritious Hawai’i Island food and the people who produce it are the stars of Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range Friday, Sept. 26 at the Hilton Waikoloa Village.

The Taste of the Hawaiian Range is one of my sons favorite events!

The Taste of the Hawaiian Range is one of my sons favorite events!

This year’s annual event that promotes agricultural sustainability is 5-8 p.m. to offer an extra hour for grazing among tasty culinary stations, food producer booths and agricultural-themed displays. The fun sprawls both inside the Hilton’s recently renovated ballroom and outside on the scenic Lagoon Lanai.

Pre-sale tickets are available at a dozen islandwide locations and online for $45 through September 25; they are $60 on event day. Details: www.TasteoftheHawaiianRange.com.

New this year, seven of the 30 culinary stations will showcase a chef using local products from a specific rancher and farmer out on the Lagoon Lanai. These stations will identify those who contributed to the dish for attendees, as well as the meat cut used. In addition, participating ranchers and farmers are also invited to talk story with attendees at each station. Event chair Jeri Moniz says the purpose for the pairings “is to foster more communication between food producers and chefs,” one of the event’s goals.

Doesn't this look good?

Doesn’t this look good?

Each Taste chef is assigned to prepare a whopping 100 pounds of a specific cut of pasture-raised beef—or locally sourced pork, lamb, mutton, goat or USDA-inspected wild boar—and the result is a festive adventure of tasting everything from tongue to tail. All the beef cuts are utilized so chefs and attendees can get acquainted with not-so-familiar cuts while having fun. The pasture-raised beef is sourced from local, humanely raised cattle that are free of antibiotics and hormones.

In addition to “grazing” on prepared top round or Rocky Mountain Oysters—aka bull’s testicles—attendees can taste samples at local food product booths and view compelling educational displays on sustainability and agriculture.

Those wanting to learn first-hand how to use and prepare 100 percent pasture-raised beef can attend the event’s annual Pasture-Raised Beef Cooking 101 culinary demonstration. This year’s guest presenter is Peter Abarcar Jr, executive chef of the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, who is preparing Chinese Style Oxtail with Radish and Salt Fish Fried Rice plus Grass-Fed Chuck Steak Pipikaula with “Killachurri” Sauce The 3 p.m. presentation includes sampling and is $10; tix available online or at the door.

Also open to the public is a free 1:30 p.m. seminar, “A Primer on Local Beef” by local livestock extension agent and long-time researcher, Glen Fukumoto. “A Primer on Local Beef” will delve into the history of the beef industry in Hawai‘i and look at the product’s supply and demand issues. Fukumoto will also examine meat quality for the grass-finished market through the years, based on his 30 years of research.

Hawai‘i residents eager to savor the flavors of fresh, local cuisine can take advantage of Hilton Waikoloa Village’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range Package with rates starting at $239 + tax per room on Friday, September 26, 2014. The kama’aina special 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 accommodations start at $149 per room, per night, based on availability. To book the exclusive package, (code TSH), visit www.hiltonwaikoloavillage.com/kamaaina, or call 1-800-HILTONS.

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

A free parking and shuttle service to Taste is available from ‘Anaeho‘omalu Bay noon-10 p.m. For general event information, phone (808) 969-8228.

Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range and Agriculture Festival provides a venue for sustainable agricultural education, 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, UH-Hilo CAFNRM, County of Hawaii Dept. on Environmental Management and community volunteers. Sponsorship also includes the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the Hawaii County Research and Development, Hawaii Community College Food Service & Culinary Program, KTA SuperStores, West Hawaii Today, KBIG, KAPA and Native FM. The quality and growth of this event are rooted in small business participation, sponsorship and in-kind donations. For more information, visit http://www.TasteOfTheHawaiianRange.com.

Senator Schatz Announces USDA Designation of Hawaii County as Natural Disaster Area

Today, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) designated Hawai‘i County as a primary natural disaster area due to damages and losses caused by wind, rain, and flooding from Tropical Storm Iselle. After a review of the Hawai‘i County Loss Assessment Reports, the USDA determined that there were sufficient agricultural production losses to warrant a Secretarial natural disaster designation.

People waited for hours just for basic supplies during Iselle.

People waited for hours just for basic supplies during Iselle.

“Many farmers in Puna are still recovering after suffering devastating crop loss due to Tropical Storm Iselle and they need our help,” Senator Schatz said. “I thank USDA Secretary Thomas Vilsack for reviewing the Loss Assessment Reports and for issuing a Secretarial natural disaster designation for Hawai‘i County. Support from the USDA will help ensure that our farmers in Hawai‘i County will receive the assistance they need.”

A Secretarial disaster designation makes farm operators in primary counties and those counties contiguous to such primary counties eligible to be considered for certain assistance from the Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. This assistance includes FSA emergency loans. Farmers in eligible counties have 8 months from the date of a Secretarial disaster declaration to apply for emergency loans. FSA considers each emergency loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of production losses on the farm, and the security and repayment ability of the operator.  So far, FSA has received over 100 inquiries for assistance from producers in Hawai‘i County.

Loans Available for Farmers Suffering Storm Damage

The Hawaii Board of Agriculture yesterday approved an emergency loan program for farmers across the state who are suffering from recent storm damage.
iselle dlnr

“Our field surveys and reports from farmers indicate significant damage to not only crops, but to some facilities and farm infrastructure,” said Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “The emergency loan program will provide assistance to get the farms back into production as soon as possible.”

Eligible farmers may now apply for emergency loans of up to $100,000 at 3 percent interest.  Loans of $50,000 or less will not require credit denials from other financial institutions, which would normally be required for agricultural loans. The board also waived the three-year residency requirements normally required for agricultural loans.

The board also authorized state loan officers to modify or waive collateral requirements, as deemed necessary, on a case-by-case basis. Loan applications for emergency loans relating to this storm event will be accepted until Dec. 31, 2014.

Farmers suffering damage throughout the state should contact their nearest HDOA office:

  • Hilo – 933-9975 and 933-9977
  • Kona – 323-7591
  • Maui – 984-2400, extension 39460 (Toll Free)
  • Molokai – 1-800-468-4644, extension 39460 (Toll Free)
  • Oahu – 973-9460
  • Kauai – 241-3141, extension 39460 (Toll Free)

For more information on agricultural loans, call the Agricultural Loan Division at 973-9460 or go the division’s webpage:  http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/agl/

U.S. Court Overturns Law Limiting Biotech Crops on Kauai

A group of global biotech crop companies won a court victory on Monday that blocks enactment of a law passed last year limiting the planting of biotech crops and use of pesticides on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren of the U.S. District Court in Hawaii ruled that the law passed in November by local leaders on the island was invalid because it was pre-empted by Hawaii state law.

The Kauai law required large agricultural companies to disclose pesticide use and genetically modified (GMO) crop plantings while establishing buffer zones around schools, homes and hospitals to protect people from exposure to pesticides used on the crops…

More Here: U.S. court overturns law limiting biotech crops on Hawaiian island

 

SNAP Reimbursement Deadline Extended for Maui County and Hawaii Island

The federal Food and Nutrition Services (FNS), which administers states’ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (SNAP) formerly known as Food Stamps, has extended Hawaii’s reimbursement deadline for food spoiled during Tropical Storm Iselle.

Snap Card

Hawaii SNAP administrators requested the extension through Aug. 30, 2014 to provide thousands of Hawaii Island and Maui County households additional time to apply for assistance.  Due to storm damage and debris, many individuals and families were unable to leave their homes by the original deadline.

Reimbursement is limited to the actual dollar value of food destroyed and cannot exceed the household’s current monthly allotment. To qualify, the individual or household must have been receiving SNAP benefits when the disaster occurred, and report the food spoilage to the Department of Human Services (DHS) Benefit, Employment and Support Services Division (BESSD) office on their island by Aug. 30, 2014.

Individual or household applying for reimbursement must provide the DHS BESSD a signed statement that includes the following information:

1)        Name of the storm and dates of impact;

2)        General list of food items lost due to storm related power outage;

3)        Length of time household power was out;

4)        Statement that the household is aware of the penalties for the intentional misrepresentation of the facts; and

5)        Statement that the household is aware that SNAP replacement allotment will not be issued if the required statement is not signed and returned by the specified deadline.

Natural disasters affect everyone in striking range.  However, elderly and/or disabled individuals, families with infants and minor children, and families with limited income are disproportionately affected because they are lack the necessary resources to replenish food supplies or other basic necessities.  It is these populations that make up the estimated 98,000 Hawaii households that currently receive SNAP benefits.

To reach the BESSD offices in Maui County call on Maui 808-984-3300; on Molokai 808-553-1751; and on Lanai 808-565-7102.  To reach the Hilo BESSD Office call 808-981-7288.

 

Assistance Offices for SNAP Beneficiaries on Hawaii Island

The Department of Human Services (DHS) Benefit, Employment and Support Services Division (BESSD) is opening four assistance offices for current SNAP beneficiaries on the east side of Hawaii Island.

Snap Card

BESSD representatives will be stationed at the below locations Mondays –Fridays between 8:30 am – 3:30 pm, through August 22. These sites will be closed Friday, August 15 for the Admissions Day holiday. They are: Hawaiian Shores Community Center; Nanawale Estates Community Association; Leilani Estates Community Center Association; and Hawaiian Paradise Park – Church of the Nazarene

DHS Opens Assistance Offices for SNAP Beneficiaries on Hawaii Island

The Department of Human Services (DHS) Benefit, Employment and Support Services Division (BESSD) is opening four assistance offices for current SNAP beneficiaries on the east side of Hawaii Island.

Department of Human Services

BESSD representatives will be stationed at the below locations Mondays –Fridays between 8:30 am – 3:30 pm, through August 22. These sites will be closed Friday, August 15 for the Admissions Day holiday. They are: Hawaiian Shores Community Center; Nanawale Estates Community Association; Leilani Estates Community Center Association; and Hawaiian Paradise Park – Church of the Nazarene

SNAP Hurricane Victims Eligible for Money for Food Losses Caused by Hurricane Iselle

Thousands of Hawaii households remain without electricity in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Iselle this past weekend.  Most people affected by power outages reside on the east side of Hawaii Island. Others are scattered across Oahu and Maui County.

Senator Brian Schatz helps make chili and rice bowls at the Hawaiian Beaches Community Center in Puna, Hawaii.

Senator Brian Schatz helps make chili and rice bowls at the Hawaiian Beaches Community Center in Puna, Hawaii.

The Department of Human Services (DHS) reminds beneficiaries of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (formerly known as Food Stamps) that beneficiary households may request reimbursement for the actual dollar value of food destroyed by storm related power outages.  The reimbursement cannot exceed the household’s current monthly allotment (HAR 17-681-31).

To qualify for reimbursement, the affected household must have been participating in the SNAP when the disaster occurred, and report the loss to the DHS Benefit, Employment and Support Services Division (BESSD) within 10 business days of the severe weather event. The deadline to submit reimbursement requests for food spoiled during Tropical Storm Iselle is Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014.

To be considered for the reimbursement, the affected SNAP household must provide the DHS BESSD a signed statement that includes the following information:

1) Name of the storm and dates of impact;

2) General list of food items lost due to storm related power outage;

3) Length of time household power was out of service;

4) Statement that the household is aware of the penalties for the intentional misrepresentation of the facts; and

5) Statement that the household is aware that SNAP replacement allotment will not be issued if the required statement is not signed and returned within 10 days.

BEFORE MAILING OR DROPPING OFF the reimbursement request, SNAP beneficiaries should contact the BESSD Processing Center that maintains their case file for additional instructions. Individuals who don’t know which Processing Center maintains their file may call (808) 586-5720 to inquire.

An estimated 98,000 households currently receive SNAP benefits statewide.  There are approximately 25,000 SNAP households on Hawaii Island; 5,000 on Kauai; and 12,000 in Maui County.  To learn more about the Hawaii SNAP, visit the DHS website www.humanservices.hawaii.gov/bessd/snap.

Community Assistance Information for Tuesday 8/14/14

This is a Community Assistance information update for Monday, August 11 at 6 P.M.

Community Assistance Centers will be open tomorrow, Tuesday morning from noon to 4 P.M. at Community Centers in Hawaiian Shores, Leilani Estates, and Nanawale, as well as the Kalani Retreat Center.

Iselle 037

These centers will offer water, ice, and other supplies while they last. Bring a container for ice or water as bags or bottles may not be available. If you are able to get to a retail store to get your supplies, we encourage you to do so and leave these supplies for those who cannot get to a store.

The Pahoa Pool is open for showers and phone charging until midnight, and will reopen at 5:30 A.M. Tuesday. The pool itself will reopen for swimming during regular hours.

The Red Cross shelter at the Pahoa Community Center will remain open Monday night for those displaced by the storm, as well as for cell phone charging. No pets are allowed in the shelter.

Be advised that HELCO crews are working in Puna subdivisions and energizing lines as possible. AT&T reports that limited cellular service has been restored.

National Guard in Pahoa

Uniformed Hawai‘i National Guard personnel are patrolling the affected areas in official National Guard vehicles, along with Police and Community Emergency Response Teams to ensure public safety.

The following County parks are still closed due to storm damage: Hilo Trap & Skeet Range, Isaac Hale Beach Park, Ahalanui Park, and Kolekole Beach Park. All other County parks are open, but exercise caution as storm debris may still be in the area.

Registered voters assigned to the polling places that were cancelled on Saturday, August 9 – Hawaiian Paradise Park Community Center and Keonepoko Elementary School – will have the opportunity to vote on Friday, August 15 from 7 A.M. to 6 P.M. at Keonepoko Elementary School.

Mahalo for listening and have a safe day.This is your Hawaii County Civil Defense.

Hawaii Missed Opportunities to Improve Drinking Water Infrastructure

Millions of dollars in federal funds intended for drinking water projects in Hawaii and four other states have sat unspent, according to a federal report.

The report, issued July 16, follows one in 2011 in which the EPA's OIG said the DWSRF program was not doing enough to find water systems that weren't compliant with regulations and could benefit from the program. The EPA provides the DWSRF funds to the states.  Click to view report

The report, issued July 16, follows one in 2011 in which the EPA’s OIG said the DWSRF program was not doing enough to find water systems that weren’t compliant with regulations and could benefit from the program. The EPA provides the DWSRF funds to the states. Click to view report

The Office of Inspector General for the Environmental Protection Agency said it found that five states reviewed — Missouri, California, Connecticut, Hawaii and New Mexico — have $231 million in unspent balances above the goal level in the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, which provides low-interest loans for cities, towns and local water districts to make drinking water infrastructure improvements.

We found that the EPA and the five states we reviewed took many actions to reduce DWSRF unliquidated balances, but those actions have not reduced DWSRF unliquidated balances to the goal of below 13 percent of the cumulative federal capitalization grants awarded.

For the period we examined the five states reviewed — California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Missouri and New Mexico — executed small numbers of loans each year and did not maximize the use of all DWSRF resources, including capitalization grant awards. State programs reviewed were not adequately projecting the DWSRF resources that would be available in the future to enable the states to anticipate the amount of projects needed to be ready for loan execution in a given year.

As a result, $231 million of capitalization grant funds remained idle, loans were not issued, and communities were not able to implement needed drinking water improvements.

We also noted that states’ project lists included in the capitalization grant application —called fundable lists —did not reflect projects that would be funded in the current year and overestimated the number of projects that will receive funding.

Less than one-third of the projects on the fundable lists we reviewed resulted in executed DWSRF loans during the current grant year.

We found that, generally, these states did not have a consistent “ready-to-proceed” definition.

When projects are not ready to proceed, expected environmental benefits are delayed.

Because states use the fundable lists to justify their annual capitalization grants, the fundable lists should communicate to the EPA and the public the projects that will be funded with taxpayer money.

Recommendations and Planned Corrective Actions

  • We recommend that the Assistant Administrator for Water require states with unliquidated obligations that exceed the Office of Water’s 13-percent-cutoff goal to project future cash flows to ensure funds are expended as efficiently as possible.
  • We also recommend that the Assistant Administrator develop guidance for states on what projects are to be included on the fundable lists and require regions, when reviewing capitalization grant applications, to ensure states are complying with the guidance.

The EPA agreed to take sufficient corrective actions on most of the recommendations.  The EPA still needs to take steps to ensure states have adopted the EPA’s guidance on the definition of “ready to proceed.

Summer Italian Food and Wine Celebration

The alluring Italian wines of Veneto, Sicilia, Toscana and Piedmonte are paired with the innovative cuisine of guest Chef Nick Mastrascusa Monday, Aug. 4 at Pueo’s Osteria’s Summer Italian Food and Wine Celebration. The fun and festive event is 5-9 p.m. at the popular Waikoloa Highlands Center restaurant. All food and wine specials can be ordered a la carte, in addition to the regular menu.

Rupert Billings

Rupert Billins

Certified wine educator Rupert Billins, southwest regional manager of Dalla Terra Winery Direct, will lead an engaging dialogue on the evening’s six fine wines that hail from four Italian regions. A native of England and resident of San Francisco, Billins has authored articles and taught classes on Italy’s vintages throughout the U.S. David Ellis “Waimea Dave” of Chambers and Chambers Wine Merchants is joining in the fun.

Attendees can watch Chef Nick in the dining room at an exciting Bruschetta Action Station where he will prepare three different bruschettas available individually or as a trio of three. Enjoy Chef’s specialized cuisine created for the evening like Squid Ink Spaghettini with fresh, seared, wild-caught opelu and Kauai shrimp. Other tasty pasta dishes include Veal and Hamakua Mushroom Tortelloni and Braised Oxtail with kabocha pumpkin risotto.

“Chef Nick will combine fresh ingredients sourced from the weekend’s farmers markets with the finest Italian products we regularly use here at the restaurant,” details Pueo’s Executive Chef James Babian. “Rupert will introduce two new wines, including one using nero mascalese grapes from Mt. Etna.”

Mastrascusa is executive chef at Kukio Resort and former executive chef at Four Season’s Hualalai’s Beach Tree restaurant. He honed his culinary skills at Florida’s Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables and the Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach. Chef Nick grew up in Uruguay and credits his grandparents, who immigrated from Sicily and Spain, for inspiring his passion for cooking.

Pueo’s GM Kurt Umehara and Proprietor Christine Babian will serve as the evening’s hosts. Reservations are recommended by calling 808-339-7566.

Pueo’s Osteria is an Italian-inspired restaurant providing enticing regional, seasonal and artisanal cuisine in Waikoloa Village above the Kohala Coast. The menu focuses on the finest Italian products paired with seafood, produce and meats sourced from boutique farms, including “farm-fresh” products from Hawaii’s hard-working food producers. Pueo’s is open nightly, focusing on dinner and late-night eats served until midnight. Reservations appreciated, 808-339-7566. www.pueososteria.com.

“The Feeding Leaf” – New Culinary Partnership Features Hawai’i Island Food From the Source

“He lau ma‘ona” is a Hawaiian expression that means “the leaf that feeds until satisfied,”referring to the kalo plant, a key food source from root to tip. As the new name for an up-and-coming culinary partnership, “The Feeding Leaf” means sharing food rooted in culture, prepared and served with a high level of artistry.

Chef Scott Hiraishi and Tracey Apoliona of The Feeding Leaf, on a learning excursion into Waipi'o Valley.  Anna Pacheco Photography

Chef Scott Hiraishi and Tracey Apoliona of The Feeding Leaf, on a learning excursion into Waipi’o Valley. Anna Pacheco Photography

The Feeding Leaf’s culinary partnership—Chef Scott Hiraishi and mulit-talented event planner Tracey Apoliona—make a strong team, cumulatively bringing decades of creative organizational and culinary skills to the table. Now working with clients on a variety of private parties and social functions, The Feeding Leaf focuses, almost exclusively, on Hawaii’s wealth of local foods.

The idea began with the Hawai‘i Island Ranchers Dinner at Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai last March. Hiraishi was Executive Chef, and took a leadership role on the event, supported by Chef Sam. Working with partners in the agricultural and education community, the Ranchers Dinner promoted their joint mission to not only “grow farmers” by nurturing agriculture, but to “grow chefs” who will use these excellent regional foods in their restaurants.

Energized by the sold-out dinner’s success, Hiraishi and Apoliona began to think about a partnership of their own, while planning for the “Roast & Roots” event, collaborating with Hawai‘i Coffee Association, Kamehameha Schools—Land Asset Division, and the Department of Agriculture. Held July 19 at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay – Convention Center, Roast & Roots was the perfect stage to premier “The Feeding Leaf.”

“We want people to understand that there’s a real and significant difference between mainstream and local foods,” said Tracey. “We want the farmers and ranchers to be appreciated for the work they do. We’ve gone to their farms and ranches, and met the people behind the food.”

“Farmers know Scott, and they are understanding of his style of cooking,” said Tracey. “No matter where we go—for example when we went to farmers markets to do food demos—they bring their products and want to give him something to try in his recipes.”

A trip into Waipi’o Valley for a photo shoot turned into an education opportunity, as the crew ventured into the ancient lo‘i amdist centuries-old rock walls. “It was pouring rain and we were drenched, but it all kind of fell into place,” said Tracey. Traditional Hawaiian farmers believed water is life. “It was almost as if Waipi‘o was giving us water, trying to feed us so we could go back and feed other people… The Feeding Leaf is a very good vehicle to teach, not just others, but to teach ourselves,” said Tracey.

Already active in Hawaii’s culinary scene, Hirasishi has been invited to cook for Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival’s exclusive “Pā‘ina on the Pier” event on O‘ahu. And, The Feeding Leaf will participate in Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range, Friday, September 26, 5-8 p.m. at Hilton Waikoloa Village.

Now accepting bookings for the holiday period and beyond, The Feeding Leaf looks forward to bringing Hawaii-raised food to a higher elevation for quality private parties, wine events, weddings, birthdays and other happy occasions. For more information, contact Tracey Apoliona, (808) 960-3094 or Scott Hiraishi, (808) 987-9794, thefeedingleaf@gmail.com, visit www.thefeedingleaf.com, or Facebook.com/thefeedingleaf.

HCA Taps Statewide Cupping Winners at 19th Annual Confab

The Hawaii Coffee Association (HCA) celebrated its 19th Annual Conference and 6th Annual Statewide Cupping Competition July 18-20 at Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa at Keauhou Bay located in the world-famous Kona Coffee Belt.

Cupping

The HCA divided more than 82 entries assembled from across the state into two categories: Creative and Commercial. Qualifying for the Commercial division means that at least 1,000 lbs of the entered coffee is available for sale as of April 15.

In the Creative Division, four of the top 10 coffees hailed from Ka’u, including the top two: Ali’i Hawaiian Hula Hands Coffee earned a score of 88.7 out of a possible 100; followed by FL Farm of Wood Valley with a score of 88.5

In the Commercial Division, five of the top 10 coffees were proudly grown in Kona with Aloha Hills Kona Coffee and Maui Grown Coffee tying for the top spot with a score of 87.3. The second spot went Kona’s Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation earning a score of 87.0.

The HCA also presented awards to the highest scoring coffees entered from each of the eight growing districts from across the state. These include Hamakua, Hawai‘i, Ka’u, Kaua‘i, Kona, Maui, O‘ahu and Moloka‘i.

One Heart Farm of Hamakua was the finest coffee sampled from that verdant district, while Hilo Coffee Mill received top honors in the Hawai‘i district tallying a score of 87.2. Kauai Coffee Company captured the top spot for that origin and Kona Mountain Coffee was judged as the premier entry from Kona with a score of 87.4. The award for the highest scoring coffee from Maui was Keokea Farms with their organic entry of Typica, Kent and Caturra varietals with a score of 88.4.

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.

Complete results can be found at www.hawaiicoffeeassoc.org

“I am very impressed with the quality of the coffees coming out of all of the districts. It just keeps getting better”, said David Gridley of Maui, HCA’s Cupping Committee chair. “I applaud all the coffee farmers of Hawai‘i for their remarkable efforts”

Veteran cupper Warren Muller said “The competition was very close” noting an overall increase in scores among a broad spectrum of coffees. “But some just jumped off the table” referring to the outstanding quality of this year’s crop. He remarked that the upward trend signifies continuous improvement and that experimentation was evident in new varietals and processing methods.

The HCA also hosted a Reverse Trade Mission designed to expand markets in Canada. Inbound missionaries included buyers, brokers, industry media and professionals.

HCA members elected a new Board of Directors to include two new representatives in Big Island Coffee Roasters of Mountain View and Isla Custom Coffees of Pahala.

Outgoing two-term President Greg Stille of Maui was replaced by incoming President Jim Wayman of Hawaii Coffee Company in Honolulu.

The HCA Annual Conference was followed on Saturday by the inaugural Roast & Roots event hosting nearly 1,000 attendees. This new event featured notable local chefs participating in culinary demonstrations and competitions and included a People’s Choice coffee tasting won by Rusty’s Hawaiian 100% Ka’u Coffee of Pahala. Roast & Roots represents a partnership between the Hawaii Coffee Association, Kamehameha Schools and Hawai‘i’s Department of Agriculture through its ‘Buy Local it Matters’ campaign.

Sunday’s activities included a bus tour of area farms and processing facilities.

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. This annual conference has continued to grow each year and has gained increased international attention.

For more information visit Hawaii Coffee Association’s website at www.hawaiicoffeeassoc.org.

19th Annual Huggo’s Wahine Tournament Coming Up

The 19th Annual Huggo’s Wahine Tournament is coming up Saturday, July 26, 2014.

Click for more information

Click for more information

This year’s theme, The Great Gatsby, celebrates the Roaring Twenties, when jazz, gin and fun loving flapper women captured America’s heart. This entertaining and competitive fishing tournament is a summer tradition in Kona and is limited to 75 lady angler teams, so women are encouraged to sign up early. Festivities kick off with a party on Friday, July 25, at Huggo’s On the Rocks, and fishing starts in Kailua Bay, Saturday, July 26 starting at 8:00 am.  4:00 PM is the end of the fishing day, and weigh-ins of the days catch can be seen at Honokohau Harbor, Charter Desk.

Proceeds from the tournament are donated to Family Support Hawaii (FSH), a Hawaii Island United Way agency.

“We always look forward to July when we host our annual Wahine Tournament,” said Huggo’s owner Eric von Platen Luder. “For almost 20 years, this fun, charity-focused tournament has donated nearly $150,000 to Family Support Hawaii. We’re thankful that through the community’s support of the event, Family Support Hawaii can make a difference in people’s lives.”

All-women anglers are competing for cash prizes that will be awarded to the teams with the biggest marlin/billfish weighing more than 300 pounds. Separate categories for most released marlin, ahi, ono, and mahi mahi will receive trophies for the largest catch.

The Huggo’s Wahine Tournament also rewards style and panache with prizes and cash awarded to the best decorated boat and team costumes. Awards will be announced at a special presentation Sunday evening, July 27 at On the Rocks. For tournament information including registration, visit Huggos.com

Cattlemen Sue Hawaii County Over GMO Ban

Hawaiian papaya and banana growers have joined cattlemen and floral producers to fight a ban on open-air growing and testing of genetically modified crops imposed by the Hawaii County Council.

The ban exempts existing papaya crops and growers. However, no new acres can be planted, according to the case filed June 9 in federal court. Hawaii County includes the entire Island of Hawaii. A scheduling hearing is set Sept. 8.

Growers say the ban — known as Bill 113 — conflicts with state and federal laws and is unconstitutional, according to the case filed by the Hawaii Papaya Industry Association (HPIA) and the Big Island Banana Growers Association. Other plaintiffs joining in the case include the Hawaii Cattlemen’s Council, the Pacific Floral Exchange and the Biotechnology Industry Organization.

The Hawaii County Council approved Bill 113 in December with a 6-3 vote. It requires existing GMO growers to annually register and pay a $100 fee. In another court action, a judge recently ruled the county cannot make public growers’ personal information and specific field locations collected in the registry.

Growers challenged publication of the registry saying it would encourage vandalism, which has previously resulted in crop destruction.

Hawaii’s papaya industry was nearly destroyed by ringspot virus in the early 1990s, and development of the Rainbow variety was the industry’s answer. The Rainbow variety passed federal review and was first planted in 1998. According to court documents, at least 85% of the papaya crop grown on Hawaii Island is Rainbow.

“Bill 113 has stigmatized HPIA members by conveying a false message that (GMO) crops and plants harm human health and the environment and has imposed other costs on HPIA,” according to the lawsuit.

Banana growers, including Richard Ha who is a plaintiff in the federal case, contend they need the option to test and possibly plant GMO bananas to mitigate threats from bunchy top virus and other diseases.

More here: Cattlemen Sue Hawaii County Over GMO Ban

DOE Releases Income Eligibility Guidelines for Free and Reduced-Price Meals

The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) is announcing its policy for free and reduced-price meals for children unable to pay the full price of meals served under the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. Copies of the policy are available at public schools.

Children from households with income at or below the following levels are eligible for free or reduced-price meals:

INCOME CHART: Effective from July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015

INCOME CHART: Effective from July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015

Application forms are being sent to all homes with a letter to parents or guardians. To apply for free or reduced-price meals, households should fill out one application and return it to the school where the child is enrolled or complete an online application via ezmealapp.com. Applications for the current school year (2014-2015) are now being accepted. The application information will be used to determine eligibility and may be verified at any time during the school year by the school or other program officials.

For DOE officials to determine eligibility, households receiving SNAP or TANF must list the child’s name, date of birth, grade, school code and their SNAP or TANF case number and the signature and name of an adult household member. Households not receiving SNAP or TANF must list: 1) the names of everyone in the household; 2) the amount of income received by each person, how often the income is received and the source of the income; 3) the name and social security number of either parent/guardian who is the primary wage earner or the adult household member who signs the form or the word “none” if neither adult household member has a social security number; and 4) the signature of an adult household member.

Applications may be submitted at any time during the year.

Under the provisions of the free and reduced-price policy, the DOE will review applications and determine eligibility. Parents or guardians dissatisfied with the ruling of the official may wish to discuss the decision with the reviewing official on an informal basis. Parents wishing to make a formal appeal may make a request for a hearing on the decision in writing to:

Name of Hearing Official: Glenna Owens, SFA Director
Address: 1106 Koko Head Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96816

Phone Number: (808) 733-8414 or toll-free 1-800-441-4845

In certain cases foster children are also eligible for school meal benefits. If a household has foster children living with them and wishes to apply for them, the household should contact the school for more information.

The information provided by the household is confidential and will be used only for purposes of determining eligibility and verifying data.

In accordance with federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability.

“Roast & Roots” Announces Team Pairings

The oven mitts are off and the toques thrown in the ring, for the “Roast & Roots” chef-student culinary competition, July 19, 2014 at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay – Convention Center. Six teams, pairing some of Hawai‘i Island’s best professional chefs with students from Hawai‘i Community College at the University of Hawai‘i Center, West Hawaiʻi (HCC-UH), Waiakea, Kealakehe and Konawaena High Schools, will take aim at the greatest taste to take home the gold.

Roots

Their main ingredients are, of course, fresh, island-grown proteins—grassfed beef from Hawaii Beef Producers, local pork from Kulana Foods and farm-raised lamb from Waiakea Uka Ranch, fresh ahi from Suisan—plus an abundance of fresh local produce from Adaptations Farms, Living Aquaponics and others. All recipes must incorporate Hawai‘i Coffee, provided by Kaiwi Farms.

Teams and protein selections are as follows:

  • Team Umeke’s – Chef Owner Nakoa Pabre with David Hickey, HCC-UHC Culinary Student (Protein: Flank Steak)
  • Team Hualalai Resort -Chef James Ebreo with AJ Andres, HCC-UHC Culinary Student (Protein: Beef Short Ribs)
  • Team Broke Da Mouth Grindz – Chef Owner Robin Ganir with Maileen Nakashima (Waiakea HS) and Kialoha (Konawaena HS) (Protein: Pork)
  • Team Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay – Chef Matt Naula with Chris Lubke and Tali Kaleai (Konawaena HS) (Protein: Pork)
  • Team King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel – Chef George Gomes with Cameron Linden (HCC-UHC Culinary Student) & Jessica Lloyd (Kealakehe HS Graduate) (Protein: Leg of Lamb)
  • Team Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows – Chef Clayton Arakawa with Adriana Rubio and Moani (Konawaena HS) (Protein: Ahi)

Emcee for the culinary portion, Chef Sam Choy will kick off with a “mystery box” demo, preparing a dish on the spot, from ingredients revealed only when he opens the box onstage. Chef Scott Hiraishi, of the new Feeding Leaf culinary partnership, will serve as Co-chair for the event.

Hosted by Hawai‘i Coffee Association (HCA) in alignment with their 19th annual conference, Roast & Roots is a collaborative project between HCA, Kamehameha Schools and Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture. Events of the day include a “Buy Local” MarketPlace, Coffee Corridor, exciting People’s Choice Cupping Contest, the Culinary Competition and music by Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award-winner Mark Yamanaka, Kaleo Perry and Dennis Garcia, leading up to Hawaii’s Female Vocalist of the Year, Raiatea Helm, at 2 p.m.

Mark Yamanaka

Mark Yamanaka at the 2011 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards

Part of the Hawai‘i Coffee Association’s three-day annual conference, Roast & Roots invites the general public to experience some of HCA’s exciting and educational activities, as well as the expertise of Hawaii’s statewide coffee industry growers, processors, roasters, wholesalers and retailers. The annual conference includes workshops and seminars covering coffee cupping packaging, certification, legislative and industry updates, with complete schedule available at www.hawaiicoffeeassoc.org.

Admission to Roast & Roots is $5 per person, free for anyone under 17—including Culinary Demonstration, Marketplace and Raiatea Helm Concert. No advance ticket sales. For more information, please contact Event Coordinator Tracey Apoliona, mkc01@hawaii.rr.com, (808) 960-3094 or visit www.Facebook.com/RoastandRoots.