The 9th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference convened nearly 1,000 farm to school and farm to institution stakeholders from across all 50 states, Washington, D.C., U.S. Territories, and Canada between April 25-27, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio for three inspiring days of learning, networking, and movement building.

Representatives for Hawai‘i included the Hawai‘i Farm to School Hui Coordinator, the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture’s Farm to School Coordinator, and Kōkua Hawai‘i Foundation’s Executive Director. The scope of this movement and the layers upon layers of partnerships and collaboratives involved in advancing farm to school nationwide were truly fascinating and inspiring to behold.

Under the leadership of the National Farm to School Network (NFSN), the ultimate outcome of the national farm to school movement is a local, equitable food system that promotes the health of the population, the economy, and the environment. NFSN’s commitment to equity was evident in the number of youth involved and the diversity of conference participants.

During the NFSN Annual Meeting that took place in conjunction with the conference, one panelist explained that “farm to school goals are equity goals,” pointing out that “health disparities and food access issues are rooted in racial inequities” and that “all kids are valuable.”

Hawai‘i shares these sentiments and NFSN’s vision for all schools and Early Care and Education settings to equitably access and implement comprehensive farm to school initiatives (including local procurement, gardening, and food and agriculture education) for the health of all people and the ‘āina (the land and waters that feed and sustain us all).

An extensive network of public-private partnerships coordinated through the Hawai‘i Farm to School Hui is hard at work to make this vision a reality for Hawai‘i. For more information on the Hawai‘i Farm to School Hui, please contact Lydi Bernal at lydi@hiphi.org or 808-591-6508, ext.9 and then press 9 again.