Food Basket of Hawaii Begins Annual Backpack Drive

The Food Basket, Hawai‘i Island’s food pantry, will begin its annual backpack program in October, to help provide school children with backpacks full of nutritious food on a regular basis.  A nationwide initiative that the state adopted five years ago, the program has served more than 450 children in two schools over the last two years.

Photo: Courtesy of The Food Basket

Photo: Courtesy of The Food Basket

“On the Big Island, we have five elementary schools with free and reduced lunch registrations over 90%,” said En Young, The Food Basket (TFB) Executive Director. “The school with the highest utilization is at 97%.”  Part of the National School Lunch Program that provides meals to children on school days, the Free and Reduced-Price Lunch Program requires registration, and can therefore help measure food needs of a particular school and community.

“Free and reduced lunch kids tend to get their most nutritious meal at school, so we stuff a backpack full of canned food, beverages and snacks for them to take home—especially over long weekends.  We try to do this at least once a month, and every other week before summer,” said Young.

Young said that this year, with support from the Food Bank, Hawai‘i island United Way and a very generous private grant, TFB will be able to expand the backpack program to three schools and more than 1,100 keiki in the Puna and South Kona Districts. Every child in the school may receive a backpack, without being labeled as needy. “We qualify the school rather than the individual,” said Young.

According to TFB website:

  • Not having enough food to sustain a healthy life is a reality for 1 in 8 Americans.  This includes children and seniors.
  • The lack of proper nutrition affects the cognitive and behavioral development of children.
  • According to the United States Department of Agriculture, limited resources prevent more than 36 million Americans from getting enough food.

In Hawai‘i specifically:

  • 32% of those served by TFB have had to choose between food and rent or mortgage bills, 27% between food and medicine or medical needs.
  • Among households with children, 67% are food insecure, including 31% who are experiencing hunger.
  • 11 % of adults served are elderly (65 or older).
  • 25% of households served had one or more children under age 18; and 6% of households served had one or more children age 5 or under.
  • 63% of client households have a monthly income below $1,000

“It’s important for us to help the public become more aware of what we do,” said Young.
For us, we want people to know that the need is there, and even if we can’t serve everybody, The Food Basket can make a difference, and help feed hungry kids.”

The Food Basket is an island-wide, supplemental food network that, in partnership with numerous community organizations, collects and distributes nutritious, high-quality food to low-income households, the working poor, senior citizens, children, people who are disabled or ill, and other members of the Big Island’s most vulnerable populations. Programs include regularly scheduled soup kitchens and food pantries in East and West Hawaii. For more information, or to make a donation, please visit www.foodbaskethi.org or call 808-933-6060.

 

“Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau” Premieres October 1st on ESPN

Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau chronicles the remarkable life and times of the late Eddie Aikau, the legendary Hawaiian big wave surfer, pioneering lifeguard and ultimately doomed crew member of the Polynesian voyaging canoe Hokulea.

Legend of Eddie Aikau

With its rich combination of archival imagery, dramatic reenactments, contemporary interviews and meticulously researched historical source material Hawaiian is a compelling examination of the tragic decline and extraordinary rebirth of the Hawaiian culture as personified by a native son whose dynamic life and heroic death served as inspiration to an entire spiritual movement.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/8qhnDCPPPgY]

30 for 30 ‘Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau’ premieres October 1st, 8pm ET on ESPN.

DLNR Proposes to Restore and Manage Watershed in Pu’u Maka’ala Natural Area Reserve

Yesterday the Board of Land and Natural Resources approved a management plan for Pu‘u Maka‘ala Natural Area Reserve. The Land Board also approved Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) issuance of a finding of no significant impact for the final environmental assessment for the plan.

Puu Makaala Forest Trail

Puu Makaala Forest Trail

“This management plan is part of the DLNR’s goal to increase protection of Hawaii’s forested watersheds, and to protect and restore rare native Hawaiian animals and plants such as the ‘I‘iwi, the Mauna Loa Silversword and the ‘Alalâ,” said William J. Aila, Jr., BLNR Chairperson.

The 18,706 acre reserve, on the east side of the island of Hawai‘i, was established in 1981 to protect native wet koa and ‘ohi‘a forests and habitat for rare species of plants and animals. Pu‘u Maka‘ala Natural Area Reserve (NAR) is managed by the DLNR’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW), and the overall management goal is to protect, maintain, and enhance the reserve’s unique natural, cultural, and geological resources.

The plan outlines specific actions needed to protect and enhance native Hawaiian ecosystems in the reserve including management of invasive species and restoration of rare and endangered plants and animals. Public access is allowed in the reserve and the management plan includes the enhancement of public access through trail improvements. New interpretive hiking opportunities will provide opportunities for the public to learn more about the reserve, its unique native species and ecosystems and ongoing management activities.

The plan discusses collaborating closely with partners, including Kûlani Correctional Facility, to achieve management goals. The Department of Public Safety is planning on reopening Kûlani in 2014.

“Before Kulani closed in 2009, inmate conservation worklines helped DLNR work to remove many invasive plant species, restoring parts of the reserve to its natural beauty,” said Department of Public Safety Director Ted Sakai. “This collaboration resulted in substantial cost-savings for the state and, in turn, gave inmates valuable education and work training opportunities. We are pleased to once again partner with the DLNR and reestablish these successful community service programs.”

The reserve is part of the state’s Natural Area Reserves System, created in 1971 by the Hawai‘i State Legislature to preserve and protect areas which support communities of the natural flora and fauna, as well as geological sites, both for the enjoyment of future generations and to provide baselines against which changes to Hawaii’s environment can be measured. The Natural Area Reserve System protects the best remaining ecosystems in the state, and actively manages them to preserve the natural heritage of Hawai‘i.

The Natural Area Reserve System presently consists of 20 reserves on five islands, encompassing more than 123,000 acres of the state’s most unique ecosystems. These diverse areas range from marine and coastal environments to alpine desert, and from fresh lava flows to wet forests and serve as habitat for rare native plants and animals, many of which are on the verge of extinction. The Natural Area Reserve System includes important watersheds and also contributes to the natural scenic beauty of Hawai‘i.

Fifteen species of federally listed endangered plants occur in or near Pu‘u Maka‘ala NAR, and DOFAW is planning to use the reserve as a key recovery site for these species. Pu‘u Maka‘ala is also home to endangered forest birds, the Nene and ‘Io. This area may also be considered as a potential future release site for captive-raised Hawaiian crow, or ‘Alalâ.

Click here for The management plan and final environmental assessment

For more information about the project contact Lisa Hadway, Division of Forestry and Wildlife Hawai‘i Branch Manager at (808) 974-4221.