By Nina Wu
Aside from the challenge of getting kids to eat their veggies, parents sometimes have to educate them about where they come from other than in a plastic bag from the supermarket. Many kids have no idea — do carrots grow on trees or peas sprout from the ground?
Making an effort to change all that is the Kokua Hawaii Foundation's ‘Aina in Schools, a farm-to-school program aiming to connect children to their land, waters and food for a healthier future.
A total of 12 public elementary schools on Oahu participate in the program, so far. Students learn how to garden as well as get a lesson in nutrition. Four schools have salad bars, and four participate in a fresh fruit and vegetable snack program.
Kaiser Permanente recently presented the Kokua Hawaii Foundation with a grant to fund two projects: A school garden food safety certification pilot program and this summer's Hawaii State Farm to School Conference.
Food safety certification for school gardens is a major hurdle for schools to get produce grown on campus into the lunch program, according to Dexter Kishida, Kokua's school food coordinator. So this is a first step towards getting some of those garden greens on to students' lunch plates.