Kaiser Permanente Hawai‘i has awarded grants totaling $122,100 to three vital community organizations, including the Food Bank on the Garden Isle.
The grants will bolster food security for the state’s most vulnerable populations.
Hawai‘i Foodbank received $22,100 to support a new Farm-to-Foodbank program, a news release from Kaiser stated on Monday, Feb. 14.
Through this program, food banks are able to be a customer of last resort for farmers who have crops to harvest, but no buyers. The grant will enable the food bank to pay for the labor, processing and packaging costs incurred as the farmer brings the crop to harvest.
The farmers then donate the crop to the food bank and are able to obtain a tax incentive for the donation. Finally, the food bank will distribute the farm-direct produce to families in the community. More than 10,000 people on O‘ahu, Kaua‘i, and Hawai‘i island will benefit from the produce.
Hawaii Foodbank, which serves O‘ahu and Kaua‘i, and The Food Basket on Hawai‘i Island are both looking at this small contract as the start of a critically important program for both Hawai‘i agriculture and its constituents. As it grows, the Farm to Food Bank program will strengthen Hawaii’s local food supply while serving underserved families, the release stated.
“A nutritious, balanced diet is a cornerstone of health, so it’s critically important at Kaiser Permanente that we help our communities get better access to healthy, affordable foods,” said John Yang, MD, president and medical director, Hawai‘i Permanente Medical Group. “Research shows that people without consistent access to sufficient food spend about 45% more on medical care each year than those in food-secure households. We’re proud to support Hui No Ke Ola Pono, Helping Hands Hawaii, and Hawai‘i Foodbank in their collective mission to nourish underserved communities and help Hawaii thrive.”
Every year, Kaiser Permanente partners with community organizations across the state that are working to address some of the most pressing socioeconomic issues impacting Hawai‘i residents. In 2021, Kaiser Permanente provided $3.8 million in total support to organizations that strive to uplift local communities by providing services to improve social determinants that drive good health and well-being.
The other two recipients were Helping Hands Hawai‘i, which received $50,000 and Hui No Ke Ola Pono, Inc., on Maui, which also received $50,000.