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Same Canoe Local Food receives more than $750,000 in new funding: Six new positions also available

September 12, 2017 - 9:00am

NORTH KOHALA — On Aug. 9, Same Canoe Local Food Challenge received substantial grant funding through Heritage Ranch, Inc. that will allow their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to continue for the next three years.

USDA Food Security provided $500,000, Hawaii Department of Agriculture contributed $40,000, AmeriCorps allotted $35,000 per year for up to three years, and more than $100,000 came from community partners.

The nonprofit organization prepared the application and submitted it last December with letters of support from key partner organizations including The West Hawaii Community Health Center, Hamakua-Kohala Health Center and local farmers markets.

One Island is a program of Heritage Ranch, Inc., a 501(c)3 founded in 2004 in California that was launched with a Hawaii-California collaborative education program. One Island was established in 2008 as a community service program and flagship sustainability educational demonstration facility on the Big Island.

The new, expanded Same Canoe SNAP/EBT program will build on a 2015-2016 pilot project that tested innovative ways to engage SNAP households in buying more local, healthy, fresh produce, fruits and vegetables. The 2017-2020 project will serve North and South Kohala, Hamakua, and North and South Kona with an emphasis on the health impacts of eating more plant-based foods as a nutrition benefit.

“Serving SNAP households is important for Hawaii’s economy and well-being, especially considering that Hawaii returns over $20 million in unused federal EBT funds each year that could be going to local farmers and merchants if more households who are eligible were enrolled in SNAP,” Marcy Montgomery said, Same Canoe’s executive director. “SNAP helps improve the health of local communities. We think of it as a complement to health insurance, rather like ‘food insurance.’”

All of the funds will support low-income residents and give the general public access to locally grown foods. Of the money granted, $350,000 will go directly to local SNAP families, farms and markets, with additional portions invested in community engagement activities, online and print nutrition and food system learning activity materials, educational food events and tastings and outreach.

“We will be developing a fun online and in-print food game that earns rewards for participants who join in to learn about new ways to improve their health and support their local farmers,” Montgomery said.

Anyone can participate in Same Canoe workshops, tours, events, special chef nights at cafes, and tastings at markets. SNAP/EBT households can receive coupons, earn extra bonus awards, free local produce coupons, discounts on local foods, workshops, contests for tasty food prizes and access to no-cost diabetes and health education programs.

Partners in the three-year project include Blue Zones Project Hawaii, West Hawaii Community Health Clinic, Hamakua-Kohala Health, Island Heart Care, Hawaiian Cultural Center of Hamakua, KTA, area farmers markets, family-owned grocery and natural foods stores, CSAs, University of Hawaii, Ho’opomaikai Community Health, and other wellness and food system organizations.

“Our Same Canoe educational programs and matching coupons will help increase purchases from local farms and draw new buyers to farmers markets and local produce sections at grocers. If we want to see local farms grow and thrive, and to decrease our dependence on imported foods, our first step as consumers is to vote with our food dollars and support local farmers,” Montgomery said.

Thanks to the new AmeriCorps and USDA Food Security grants, Same Canoe now has six new positions to fill: two team leaders and four team members. The jobs are part of an AmeriCorps community service program that helps increase local access to fresh, nutritious, local foods, and build multi-health and life skills.

The team leaders will serve for 12 months at 18 hours a week, while crew members will be 12 months for 16 hours per week. The positions will serve Hamakua and North/South Kohala, or North/South Kona. Work will take place at local farmers markets, grocers and community centers and events.

The work is ideal for college students, recent graduates and retirees eager to be of service to their community. Applications are currently being accepted. To apply, email greenschool@oneisland.org a letter of introduction, resume and description of interest in food access, health and nutrition, community and multi-cultural services.

For SNAP/EBT program info: Email hawaii@oneisland.org

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