ISLAND PACIFIC ACADEMY Middle and Upper school students participated in Hawaiʻi Business Magazine’s Need to Know Event Series on Hawaiʻi’s Food Security at the beautiful Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Hoʻokupu Center in Kewalo Basin on March 3, 2022. ISLAND PACIFIC ACADEMY was proud to be a Student Sponsor of the event.
As part of the school’s sponsorship, nine IPA students were invited to take a tour of Hoʻokupu Center, run by Kupu Hawaiʻi, and met with Chef Eddie Mafnas to learn about the Kupu Culinary program he heads at the center. They also participated in a pre-event discussion with the event panelists, students from Waipahu High School, and members of Hawaiʻi Business Magazine, where they were able to ask questions addressing their concerns around food resilience and food security in Hawaiʻi.
Following the pre-event discussion, the students joined the more than 80 participants in person for the main event where they heard from a panel of community leaders, including Chad Buck, founder and owner of Hawaiʻi Foodservice Alliance LLC; Albie Miles, Assistant Professor of Sustainable Community Food Systems at UH West Oʻahu; Denise Yamaguchi, Executive Director of Hawaiʻi Agricultural Foundation; Kāʻeo Duarte, Vice President of Community and ʻĀina Resiliency at Kamehameha Schools; and David Lopez, Executive Officer at the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency. The event was moderated by Steve Petranik, Editor, Hawaiʻi Business Magazine.
The students had the opportunity to listen to an important discussion by community leaders about the lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, and what steps are being taken by farmers, suppliers, and non-profit organizations to help Hawaiʻi reduce its reliance on non-local food sources, and how all of us as a community working together can help to support those efforts.
During the event, questions raised by student participants during the pre-event session were shared with the panelists. One question about how they, as students, can help reduce Hawai’i’s reliance on imported food and support local farmers started an interesting conversation about the power they have as consumers to push local restaurants to support local farmers by only patronizing establishments that buy local, and the opportunities they have to make an impact by buying locally produced meat, eggs, produce – and even snack foods.
The experience was a valuable one for the students, increasing their awareness about issues they may not have thought of before, and hopefully inspiring them to become future changemakers. Participating in the event were McKenzie Godish ʻ28, Isabella Greenlee ʻ28, Aiden Tan ʻ27, Kiana Vasilash ʻ24, Taylor Mizon ʻ24, Jayda Fullum ʻ23, Rachel Onaga ʻ23, Sebastian Banquil ʻ23, and Maxwell Murata ʻ23. Also taking part from IPA were Gerald Teramae, Dr. Brandy Sato, Aparna Cheerath, and Be-Jay Kodama. There will be three more events in the coming months, with the opportunity for more IPA students to participate.