Over the course of eight community meetings, more than 200 Kauai food producers, community leaders and concerned citizens identified 27 key ways to fill a larger portion of the plates of the island’s roughly 74,000 residents with locally grown and produced fare.

Now the public has a chance to vote on the strategies to help organizers determine which objectives should guide be enshrined in the Kauai Food Access Plan, a first-of-its-kind blueprint to strengthen local food access and agricultural systems to be carried out by local government and nonprofit organizations by 2030. 

Hanalei is the taro capital of Hawaii, home to farms that produce more than two-thirds of all the taro in the state. But taro farming used to be more widespread across the islands. (Yoohyun Jung/Civil Beat/2021)

Proposals range from opening a food pantry in every school and developing a Kauai seed network to policy changes, such as a requiring food pantries to stock 75% of their shelves with local ingredients or requiring all farmers markets in accept food assistance benefits, such as SNAP.

Kauai residents only are asked to participate in the process by indicating which initiatives they would be willing to actively support. Voting ends on Feb. 24.

“We want to see which objectives the community is willing to commit to see through and be a part of creating, not just what you’d like to see for others,” the reads an excerpt from the voting platform.

Malama Kauai, a nonprofit focused on increasing local food production, is steering the effort to build the islandwide action plan focused on the island’s most vulnerable residents, including keiki, kupuna and low-income families.

The project, which is being duplicated statewide to reflect the unique dynamics of each county, is supported by the Hawaii Department of Health.

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