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Podcast explores Kamehameha Schools’ role in strengthening Hawai‘i’s food system

June 27, 2024

A Kamehameha Schools alakaʻi in ‘āina sustainability shared her manaʻo as a featured guest of the local food systems podcast, The Thirty Percent Project. Leanne Kami and podcast host Paula Daniels took a deep dive into KS’ work to improve food resiliency across the pae ʻāina, especially considering ‘Āina Pauahi encompasses the whole food chain from farm to table.

KS stewards 107,000 acres of agricultural land and leases that ʻāina to more than 830 farmers and ranchers, who grow five million pounds of fruits and veggies and 13 million pounds of specialty crops like renowned Kona coffee annually.

“We are taking a more active approach to determine what these farmers and ranchers need to be successful because, ultimately, their success is our success,” said Kami, a strategy consultant with the Sustainable Industry Development team at KS. “Understanding the hardships firsthand—that farmers have to go through and how thin the margins are to make ends meet—drove my passion to solve the issues we’re facing in agriculture and food systems.”

A mahiʻai herself, Kami combines her passion for agriculture and education into her work to advance KS’ food systems strategies and goals; one of which is reaching 50% local consumption of foods on its campuses. Kapālama alone serves two million lunches a year, or roughly 4,000 lunches daily, opening opportunities to source local and encourage haumāna to choose healthy and traditional food options like poi.

“Part of our mission is to bring that ‘ono—[meaning] taste or palette—back for those traditional foods, especially poi, as a daily staple,” Kami said.  

Through Kami and the Sustainable Industry Development team’s work, the Kapālama campus now serves poi daily rather than once a month or on special occasions. Other innovative programs like Poi for the People and Poi for the Pēpē enable haumāna to take home a one-pound bag of poi to share with their ‘ohana, along with educational resource materials and recipes.

A KS Maui haumāna (right) hand delivers fresh poi to a KS maui preschooler (left) thanks to the Poi for the Pēpē project.
A KS Maui haumāna (right) hand delivers fresh poi to a KS maui preschooler (left) thanks to the Poi for the Pēpē project.

Check out the newest episode of the Thirty Percent Project podcast to hear about KS’ commitment to making meaningful progress in strengthening Hawai‘i’s food system through innovations in food supply, distribution and demand.

“We’ve intentionally focused on putting keiki and ʻāina at the center of everything we do. When you focus there, you start to see the ripple effect of the economic, social and community impacts,” Kami said. 

Learn more about KS’s food systems work here.

food sustainability,sustainability,ʻāina pauahi,ʻāina-based education,poi for the people,employee ʻohana

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