Mahalo nui loa to everyone who made this year’s Eat Local Challenge such an amazing success!
The Eat Local Challenge has grown explosively since it started as an idea 3 years ago with about 30 people committing to eat locally grown for one week. This year over 3,000 people took part in the Challenge- learning, planting, and eating our way through the entire month of September.
People from every sector of Hawai’i’s food system stepped up to the Challenge, from farmers and chefs to government and health officials, school kids and teachers, and everyone in between. Special thanks to Mayor Peter Carlisle; CEO of Kamehameha Schools Dee Jay Mailer; Hawaii Dept. of Agriculture chair Russell S. Kokubun; and Kaiser Permanente Hawaii president Janet Liang, for speaking up publicly about their experiences taking the Eat Local Challenge.
Here are a few highlights from this year’s Challenge:
Mahalo to the forty restaurants who partnered for Eat Local this year – offering special locally grown menu items, and the 17 market/supermarket partners in 31 locations across the islands – who sourced and labeled locally grown foods and offered specials for the Challenge. (See all Eat Local partners)
This year we launched a new feature of the website called “Locations” where members can upload reviews of places that serve and source locally grown, and view the locations on a map – this is available now as an Android app (iphone app coming soon).
Thanks to the 17 Information partners who shared Eat Local information from recipes and tutorials to analysis about agriculture and food policy issues, and to the 28 Promotional Partners, who helped to bring the Eat Local Challenge into communities across Hawaii, elevating the conversation about local food sustainability. (See all Eat Local stories)
A big thank you to Yelp Hawai’i – who joined forces with us for a special “Yelp Eats Local week” promotion. Collaborating with Yelp brought the Eat Local Challenge into a fresh community, and we’re grateful to the 11 restaurants who donated proceeds from the week to Kanu.
Schools & Families
Sixty teachers with 2260 students from 41 public and private schools in every county signed up to bring the Eat Local Challenge into their classrooms. These teachers received a resource packet with ideas for the Challenge and a packet of seeds to “grow the challenge” with their classes. (See Eat Local in Schools tip sheet)
Together with Kokua Hawaii Foundation and Hawaii 5210, we developed a resource sheet of ideas for Eating Local as a family. This resource was given out at all Eat Local outreach events, as well as through the Hawaii 5210 and Kokua Hawaii networks. (See Eat Local for Families tip sheet)
Mahalo to all the members and partners who organized events during Eat Local month, including cooking demonstrations, gardening workshops, potlucks, local food festivals, film screenings, and more! The Eat Local Calendar was full – with events on every day of the Challenge month. (View calendar of events).
We kicked off the Eat Local Challenge at “Ag in the City: Stepping up to the Plate,” where young chefs paired up with local farmers to showcase dishes made with fresh local meat and produce. This event was presented by the City and County of Honolulu, Office of the Mayor, and the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation. Check out photos of the farmers and chefs making commitments to join the Eat Local Challenge, and speaking about Hawai’i’s food system.
Along with the Hawaiʻi Food Policy Council, we hosted the “Big, Hairy, Audacious Ideas for a Food Revolution” forum on September 20th, which brought together 200 people to discuss how to make healthy, locally grown food accessible for everyone. Check out short videos of the solutions-focused presentations given by panelists Lisa Asagi, Kamuela Enos, Dexter Kishida, Ed Kenney, and Ashley Lukens.
In collaboration with Kamehameha Schools Bishop Estates and Street Grindz, the Eat Local Challenge wrapped up with a special “Eat Local” themed Eat the Street food truck rally on Sept 30th, where 39 food trucks used local ingredients in their dishes!
The Eat Local Challenge got great press - in fact, September has been coined “Eat Local month” in the media. Thanks to all of you who blogged, tweeted, and shared the Eat Local Challenge on Facebook. Over 40 media stories about the Eat Local Challenge came out during the month of September, here are a few highlights:
At the end of the Challenge we sent out an email survey to members asking for feedback. Here are a few of the things we heard:
“Loved seeing the Eat Local Challenge signage in restaurants and grocery stores - very welcoming, source of pride - bringing the realization that food is a relationship, a responsibility - not a commodity.”
“This initiative got a great deal of buzz - kudos! I saw and heard about it everywhere, and even though I didn't officially "sign up", I wholeheartedly supported and participated. Mahalo!”
“Extending it to 1 month is a great idea to help people form longer habits of eating local. Even though I didn't officially sign up for the challenge, I do appreciate the added opportunities to Eat Local and awareness that your challenge brings (for example, added *local* dishes at some of the restaurants that I like during Eat Local month). Thanks for making a difference.”
Of the participants who responded to the survey, 86% said they had conversations during the month about the Eat Local Challenge and/or the local food system. A majority (87%) of people who didn’t sign up for the Challenge said they did intentionally purchase locally grown food during the month, but didn’t feel the need to sign up.
Some suggestions offered from the survey include: more information and events on islands other than O’ahu, focus on protecting local agricultural lands and promoting urban agriculture, more info on eating local on a budget, and putting together a cookbook. Mahalo for this feedback!
Finally, this comment sums up what I think was the most successful aspect of this year’s Eat Local Challenge:
“You all did a tremendous job of getting the word out. Even people I did not expect to know about the challenge already had heard of it when I explained my dietary choices during my strictly-local week. This was a really well-organized campaign.”
We heard so many conversations in grocery stores, in restaurants, and from our own family members and coworkers who were talking about eating local and the importance of supporting our local food system – this conversation reached far beyond Kanu membership, and I believe it has taken root and will continue to grow.
We will be following up on our personal commitments to eat local with group actions that build a more sustainable, healthy local food system throughout the coming year. We will be highlighting policies that affect the local food system and sharing where candidates stand on food issues in the lead up to the 2012 elections. We will also work together to encourage businesses and institutions to support locally grown. Together we will make our sustainable local food system a reality.
Mahalo to Eat Local Challenge sponsors Kaiser Permanente, and the Ulupono Initiative, whose support made our work with the Eat Local Challenge possible.
Most especially, thank you to the intrepid core of volunteers on the Eat Local planning committee, whose efforts made this year’s challenge such an incredible success: Alani Apio, Kalei Stern, Kylee Mar, Cathy Kawano-Ching, Ashlee Chung, Tyler Mongan, Francoise Acra, Trina Orimoto, Andrea Dean, Cherub Silverstein, Lehua Slater, and Joannie Pan.
Comments posted prior to adopting Facebook comments.