It's Time For The DOE To Take The Lead On Food And Education
Updated: Mar 3, 2022
Hawaii Grown: Civil Beat
September 12, 2021
We are at an unprecedented moment, and if the DOE acts, Hawaii’s students and their food will be growing together. By Nancy Redfeather, Debbie Millikan
Nancy Redfeather founded the Hawai'i Island School Garden Network in 2008, and co-founded the State Farm to School Hui in 2010. She also founded the Hawai'i Public Seed Initiative that eventually became the Hawai'i Seed Growers Network in 2017. She grows food and seed on her family's farm in Kona. Debbie Millikan is a sustainability specialist and food systems educator at Iolani School in Honolulu.
We have both been thinking a lot lately about the next generation and wondering what Hawaii will be like for them in 10 or 20 years. In our communities we are witnessing unprecedented changes — the extreme weather we’ve been watching elsewhere in the world has arrived. Within a 30-mile radius of Nancy’s farm in Kona, torrential rainfall and flooding has dampened food production and local harvests, while the National Weather Service has declared the rest of the island in severe drought. Last month’s Waikoloa fire — the largest in the history of Hawaii island — burned 40,000 acres before it was controlled. On Oahu, Debbie is watching rising ocean waters erode the coast and frequently inundate low-lying areas. The threat of hurricanes is ever greater.
Climate change has found us, and it is in this context that we want to talk about food. We have both been involved in education for decades, always with an emphasis on food systems. And we are writing because we want everyone in Hawaii to know that when it comes to food and education, we have arrived at a moment of terrific potential. Even in the midst of environmental upheaval and the pandemic, many years of hard work can come to fruition now if Hawaii’s Department of Education will embrace the ideas we offer here.
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