Kokua Market

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Local Produce Donations to Benefit Community Organizations!

Give It Fresh Today: Local Produce Donations to Benefit Community Organizations

Starting January 2, 2010, Saturday morning KCC Farmer’s Market shoppers can do more than enjoy fresh locally grown produce and prepared foods - they can give back to those in need, through making in kind donations to community organizers that serve meals to Hawaii's homeless. The project is called Give it Fresh Today (G.I.F.T.), and the Hawaii Farm Bureau (host of the market) is generously providing the tent and table for the month of January as a trial period for this program. The table will be located next to the Hawaii Farm Bureau table, and receipts will be given for donations.

I became increasingly interested in local food issues (including supporting local farmers and the preservation of agricultural land) after watching movies like Food Inc., Ingredients, and Fresh this past year through the Hawaii International Film Festival and an “Eat Local” event sponsored by Kanu Hawaii.

I was inspired to collect produce donations after meeting a woman collecting food at the Edgewater Farmer’s Market in Chicago for a local food pantry, while in Chicago for Feldenkrais training in early October. I decided to organize a similar program in Hawaii at the KCC Farmers Market where I am an avid shopper and began contacting the Hawaii Farm Bureau and searching for organizations that had cold storage and would be interested in fresh produce donations.

Unity Church of Hawaii was the first organization to express an interest in receiving produce. Located down the street from the market, the church has two nights of food service for their Ho'opono (food service to the homeless in Waikiki) and Gregory House (food service to the homeless living with HIV/AIDS) projects. I am a member of the church and have participated in the Hoopono project.

Hoping that the produce donations would extend beyond the church’s needs, I also contacted the Institute for Human Services, which has agreed to accept all of the additional donations. Ana Iose, the Meal Program Manager at IHS, has been looking for ways to get more fresh produce into the meals of the children, families and individuals served by the shelters to better the nutrition and health of the communities served.

If we collect more donations than both of these organizations can use in a week, I would look for more organizations to support through this project. It's a win-win for everyone involved. The farmers sell more produce, the shoppers have an opportunity to support local agriculture as well as make a real difference in the lives of their neighbors, community organizations have greater support for their projects, and the homeless will have access to more nutritious and healthy meals.

To get involved, drop by the table at the KCC Farmers Market, send an e-mail to giveitfreshtoday@gmail.com or call 282-0053.

I don't represent any particular group, and am a concerned and conscientious citizen with a newfound interest in eating locally and supporting sustainable practices with regard to food production. I am an avid shopper at the KCC Farmers Market and at Kokua Market. I'm an elementary school teacher at Assets School, a volunteer at Mao Farm GIVE days, a lomilomi practitioner studying the Feldenkrais Method, and a member of Unity Church of Hawaii.

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Comment by Vivian Chau on January 3, 2010 at 1:59pm
Thanks for all the positive feedback and the thoughtful questions that have come in! =)

Kokua Members can help by volunteering on Saturdays if you're interested in helping to collect produce at the table. It's AMAZING to feel the generous spirit of the people on our island (and of visitors!). This past week our volunteers, gave thank-you fliers to those who donated produce, helped to load up the plastic bins that we'll be re-using week-to-week with heavier more sturdy produce on the bottom and more delicate items on top, and also acting as "model shoppers", who would go to the farmers and tell people around them about the program saying things like, "I'm buying a little extra today and bringing it to the donation table up there. (and pointing)". Some of our volunteers also helped encourage people write responses about "Why I'm donating...".

The shifts are from 7:30-9:30 and 9:30-11:30 on Saturday Mornings.

If you'd like to volunteer, please give me a call at 282-0053 or send me an e-mail. =)

If you'd like to support the program by buying extra produce at Kokua and bringing it to the market, I think that would be a great way to support Kokua and the GIFT project. =)

Kokua may want to have a way for people to buy a little extra and make a GIFT program of its own, and find a way to either have the food picked up by a local organization or to have it delivered.
Comment by Kokua Market on January 3, 2010 at 10:34am
Vivian, if you want to upload the picture as a separate blog post rather than a comment, I can feature that for you too!
Comment by Bradley Chun on January 3, 2010 at 8:02am
Wow, Vivian. I can see from the smiles on your faces and the mountain of produce that the program's first day was a great success. Thanks for offering this vehicle to our community. Please continue to keep us informed about this great new program. You've obviously set it up in a really thoughtful way.
Comment by Vivian Chau on January 2, 2010 at 4:11pm
Just wanted to share a photo of today's success! =) This is Will Best and me (two Kokua members), celebrating our one year anniversary together with the first day of a successful donation program!
Comment by Vivian Chau on January 2, 2010 at 4:10pm

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