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Hawaiʻi keiki are getting to taste nutritious local foods as they learn more about them.

The “Hoʻopili ʻAi Campaign – Uniting Keiki & Hawaiʻi Food Crops” introduces K–5 students at public and public charter elementary schools statewide to Hawaiʻi-grown foods such as kalo (taro), ʻulu (breadfruit) and ʻuala (sweet potato). Each classroom is given a box containing educational materials and 25 individual pre-packaged produce for students and their ʻohana to try at home.

The Hoʻopili ʻAi Campaign is a partnership between the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR), Hawaiʻi ʻUlu Cooperative, Hawaiʻi Farm to School Hui, Chef Hui and Kōkua Hawaiʻi Foundation. The goal of the campaign is to connect kids with their food and the ʻāina (land).

“The hope is to build an interactive, experiential food systems lesson that students will enjoy,” explained Lydi Morgan Bernal, CTAHR’s Oʻahu Farm to School coordinator based in the Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences.

“Students get to experience food in a variety of ways,” added Bernal. “What this campaign includes are education videos. It includes a very simple, easy lesson plan to introduce students to the nutritional value of the foods and to the farmers that grow them. And then what it culminates in is having them actually taste the foods.”

October is National Farm to School month aimed at empowering children and their families to make informed food choices and contributing to vibrant communities.

Visit their website to donate a farm-to-school sample box to a cafeteria or classroom.

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