Hawai’i

Hawai’i

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  • Program Associate Director:Jess Sobocinski
  • Team Leader:Tanner Keys

For more information on getting involved with FoodCorps in Hawai’i, please contact Jess.

Why Serve in Hawai’i?

Kanaka Maoli, or Native Hawaiians, have an ʻōlelo noʻeau (proverb): “He aliʻi ka ʻāina, he kauwā ke kanaka, which can be translated as, “The land is chief, man is its servant.” 

With this value, Kanaka Maoli sustained large populations of people for centuries through thoughtfully-managed farming and fishing enforced by law (the kapu system) with zero input from outside Ko Hawaiʻi Pae ʻĀīna. They managed acre-large saltwater fish ponds and grew kalo (taro), ʻuala (sweet potato), ʻulu (breadfruit), and maiʻa (banana). The local population — which includes not only Native Hawaiians but also people of mixed Japanese, Filipino, Chinese, Portuguese, other European, and Pacific Islander descent whose families have been in Hawaiʻi for generations, often by way of large-scale agricultural introductions such as cattle ranching and sugarcane plantations, also known as “locals” — still fish, farm, and hunt as a way of life, especially on Hawaiʻi Island where the majority of our sites reside. 

However, due to the impacts of colonization, the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom, high real estate prices, and an exploitative tourism industry, locals are experiencing increasingly limited access to increasingly degraded resources, making this legacy of food sovereignty difficult to realize in the modern world. This also means that Hawaiʻi residents have some reliance on imported, processed food sources, which has led to an increase in diet-related diseases and food insecurity, especially among Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities. 

In Hawaiʻi, FoodCorps service members collaborate with their local communities to create spaces in our schools where Hawaiian and other traditional foods and agricultural practices are celebrated and shared with the next generation. Our members help build and expand school garden and nutrition education programs, and support school and community-based efforts to feed our communities. To support our schools’ academic goals, our members connect their hands-on lessons and activities with core curriculum. FoodCorps Hawaiʻi is dedicated to providing training, support, and local mentorship so that our members can deliver lessons that are ʻāina-based, culturally-relevant, and engaging to their haumana (students). If you are prepared to “huli ka lima i lalo” (turn the hands down and work), consider joining our hui!