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Culinary Students From Kalani And Castle High School Serving Lunch.

Hawaiʻi Youth Food Council Hosts 2024 We Grow Hawaiʻi Youth Food Summit

On February 16th and 17th, the Hawaiʻi Youth Food Council (HYFC) hosted the 2024 We Grow Hawaiʻi Youth Food Summit. HYFC, with support from the Hawai‘i Farm to School Hui, O‘ahu Farm to School Network, and Punahou School,  brought together over 200 K-12 and college students, teachers, and community members from across the state. 

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The summit kicked off at the Hawaiʻi State Capitol with a youth forum, where HYFC members guided their peers from across the state to advocate for bills aimed at transforming food systems and nurturing healthier, more sustainable communities. Priorities included a farm-to-school incentive program (HB 2083), DOE procurement reforms (HB 2620), universal free school meals (HB 1775), and a shade trees initiative (HB 1969).

Vivienne Hill, a HYFC member and Junior at Honolulu Waldorf School, emphasized the importance of youth engagement: “Events like these are so important because they encourage youth to be active, make change in their communities in a way that they might have otherwise been uncomfortable doing.” Hill continued, “We had such an amazing turnout – and it’s just a testament to how much youth care about regenerative food systems and farm to school initiatives.”

Lunch was a highlight of the day! Culinary students from Castle and Kalani High School prepared samples of Farm to School meals made from scratch featuring locally sourced ingredients. Samples included Honey Roasted Kabocha, Kabocha Sweet Potato Bai, Vegetarian Thai Curry, and Ground Beef Enchilada. 

The second day, held at Punahou School, was a conference-style gathering that featured panel discussions and workshops on Farm to School initiatives. Gigi Kiyabu, a junior at Mid-Pacific Institute, highlighted the event’s significance in understanding and improving food systems: “This event is crucial for understanding our food systems current state and learning how to move forward to create a better future.”

What’s next? The summit is just the beginning for our Youth Council Members! Follow along on our Instagram account @hawaiiyouthfoodcouncil for updates and calls to action on the “We Grow” bills. And future opportunities to share youth voice on Farm to School!

Olivia Whittemore

Olivia Whittemore

Hawai‘i Farm to School Hui Special Projects Coordinator
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