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Hawaii farmers union forms task force to double food production

The Hawaii Farmers Union United has launched a task force it hopes will double food production in one to two years to sustain the state in the event of a global recession and the diminishing food sources accompanying the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re seeing all these challenges: Farmers are going bankrupt, food entrepreneurs are going bankrupt,” said Vincent Kimura, head of the union’s Waimanalo chapter, which is spearheading the task force.

Should shipping slow to Hawaii, or world food sources be threatened, the task force intends to prepare a Plan B involving collaboration with local food industry groups, Kimura said.

The plan would involve strengthening Hawaii’s network of food hubs, which help farmers store, deliver and sell what they grow. This would include collaboration among chefs, caterers and other businesses that prepare food, to work with current distribution channels, including home delivery services, a union news release said.

“If the farmers go out of business and they can’t supply the food entrepreneurs and others, you know from history, a lot of bad things happen. If we can double down and ensure that farmers increase production, and a lot of that money goes to moving products throughout the islands and food hubs,” the state’s local supply chain will be buttressed, he said.

Farmers Union members include operators of eight food hubs that distribute produce from 660 small to medium farms to all the state’s public schools, seven hospitals and more than 200 restaurants.

The group is particularly worried about feeding Oahu, with its high population density and the vulnerability of its elderly.

It is asking for collaboration from:

>> Farmers who want to sell to food hubs, as well as increase production;

>> Businesses that have commercial refrigeration, restaurants and other food entrepreneurs who want to prepare family-style meals;

>> Logistics and food delivery organizations that can move fresh produce boxes and prepared meals to homes and other pickup points statewide, and;

>> Others such as seed networks, funding organizations, foodbanks, schools and health care providers.

For information, to join the task force or to collaborate, email food@hfuuhi.org.

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