Hawaii DOE Wants Kids To Say: ‘Mom, I Had The Greatest Meal At School Today’ … A strategy is developing to use centralized kitchens to replace processed food imports currently served in student meals with fresh, local ingredients.

Randall Tanaka, who oversees food services at Hawaii’s 257 public schools, laid out a vision earlier this week for pursuing school lunch as a vehicle to prop up local agriculture while improving menus with more nutritious and delicious meals.

Hawaii GrownWith a $120 million operating budget, the Hawaii Department of Education’s School Food Services Branch annually purchases about $45 million worth of food — most of which is processed food imported from the mainland.

But if a sizable and steady percentage of the school food budget was redirected toward local agriculture, Tanaka said it would give Hawaii’s farmers and ranchers an economic boost while helping to improve the state’s precarious food self-sufficiency at a time when supply chain issues have reduced the reliability of shipping.

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