Our Post-Pandemic Resilient Local Food System

June 2020: The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically highlighted the critical need for sustainable local food systems. Hawaii food banks and food distribution agencies have seen the unprecedented demand double, then triple, since the beginning of March 2020, as residents lost jobs and families were thrust into severe financial hardship. This disastrous scenario has also created calamitous effects on Hawaii’s farmers and food system. According to the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, farmers have reported losing 60% of their market due to hotel, restaurant, school and farmers market shutdowns.

A pivot to direct farmer-to-consumer sales is taking place, signaling a likely long-lasting adjustment in our local food systems toward consumption of more locally produced food. Of particular concern in planning for success in this transformation is the current lack of value-added food processing and food storage facilities for farmers, which would enable them to convert perishable produce to packaged items with a longer shelf life.

The West Hawaii Community Kitchen will have the capacity to operate 1) a value-added production kitchen for local farmers to convert their perishable produce to higher-value products with a storage and shelf life; 2) a second kitchen that can be utilized as another value-added kitchen, or as a food production kitchen serving the community; 3) an array of trainings and classes for all producers who utilize the facility, to ensure that they have they knowledge and skills they need to develop marketable value-added products; 4) a food storage facility; and 5) a food distribution facility.

At the April 3 2020 meeting of the state Senate Special Committee on COVID-19, Phyllis Shimabukuro-Geiser, the director of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, stated that Hawaii severely lacks such facilities. Senator Donovan Dela Cruz, chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee and a strong supporter of the West Hawaii Community Kitchen project, points to value-added production facilities as one of the most critically needed components of a resilient food system, providing a means by which Hawaii farmers can process and package food for both local and export consumption. The programs that will be offered at the West Hawaii Community Kitchen will directly address these current critical needs.

The new West Hawaii Community Kitchen will be a vital element of reshaping Hawaii Island’s post-pandemic reality into a resilient, thriving, food-secure local economy. At 80% completion, this new facility is primed to rapidly become a part of the new community-focused food system.

West Hawaii Community Kitchen is nearing completion!

January 2020: We have great news – the West Hawai‘i Community Kitchen is nearing completion!

A value-added processing kitchen accessible to local farms has been a dream for more than twenty years. Centrally located in Kealakekua to serve farming families from Holualoa to Honomalino, the beautiful new kitchen facility, about 80% completed, stands ready for the final phase of development.

In 2020, we’re making our final funding push to raise the remaining 20% needed to complete the new kitchen facility.

Five years ago, a $1.2 million Grant-in-Aid from the Hawai‘i State Legislature got the West Hawaii Community Kitchen project rolling. The comprehensive planning process included a series of community input meetings and online surveys that engaged dozens of community members in helping make decisions about kitchen design, equipment and operations. Architectural design, engineering and the permit process followed, and construction of the new facility began in December 2018.

An additional $400,000 Grant-In-Aid in 2018, along with substantial donations from the Ulupono Initiative and the Dorrance Foundation and many smaller community donations, brought the kitchen project along to its present stage. The kitchen building has been built and all exterior finish work completed, the plumbing and electric is complete, and all kitchen equipment has been purchased. We’re close to the finish line!

While there are more than 700 farming families in our community, there is currently no accessible value-added processing facility in West Hawai‘i.The West Hawai‘i Community Kitchen is designed as a value-added production facility that will help local farming families thrive by turning their harvest into finished products that bring in more income. Supporting family farms strengthens our community and the local agricultural economy.

Adding value to a product leads to higher financial returns, with a goal of increased return for farmers. Some of the value-added products identified by our community farmers include salsas and chutneys, jams and jellies, canned fish and meat, kalo, ‘uala and ‘ulu chips, probiotic drinks, fish and meat jerky, and organic baby food.

If you’re interested in joining our 2020 fundraising efforts to complete West Hawaii Community Kitchen, please contact us at westhawaiicommunitykitchen@gmail.com .

Kitchen Groundbreaking December 19, 2018!

We will be hosting a groundbreaking ceremony to launch the construction of the new West Hawaii Community Kitchen at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, December 19th. The ceremony will be officiated by Kumu Keala Ching, who also serves as a board member.

With an expected completion date in 2020, the new 3,000 sq. ft. community kitchen will be used by local farmers for value-added processing, the first such facility to serve West Hawaii’s agricultural community.

The construction of the new $1.9 million facility is funded by two Hawaii legislative CIP grants-in-aid (2015 & 2018), grants from private foundations and state agencies, and an internal capital campaign.

The design of the value-added processing kitchen for local farmers was based on a series of scoping meetings with the West Hawaii agricultural community and will be furnished with kitchen equipment selected to optimize the effectiveness of the kitchen for the use of West Hawaii farmers and the produce they grow.

West Hawai‘i Community Kitchen Update

We are now in the final stages of the permitting process for West Hawaii’s first community kitchen!

The West Hawaii Community Kitchen will provide facilities for value-added processing by local farmers to enable them to increase the value of their agricultural production.

The architectural and engineering processes are complete, planning department approval received, and building permits are expected in September 2018. The project bidding process is complete, a contractor, Tinguely Development, has been selected, and we are ready to go as soon as the building permits have been issued.

Stay tuned for further updates!

 

West Hawaii Community Kitchen Planning Survey Report

In April 2015, we received a Grant in Aid for the construction of a community kitchen that will be available to local farmers and producers for value-added processing.

In October 2015, we launched a comprehensive community planning process in order to engage community stakeholders in meaningful opportunities to provide input regarding the value-added production kitchen design, equipment, location & operation. We recognize that it is essential to receive input from our community in order to make well- informed design and planning decisions that meet the value-added processing needs of our community and local farmers.

In February 2016, the data gathered through the community planning process will be submitted to Kapiolani Community College. KCC will then use that data to generate preliminary kitchen design documents.

 

 

West Hawaii Community Kitchen Planning Survey

We are excited to launch our site, building, equipment, and program design process for the West Hawaii Community Kitchen!

We need your input in order to create a kitchen that meets the needs of our community and local farmers.

Here are the links to the survey that will help us ensure that the design of the new community kitchen meets the need of our community and local farmers: