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Food Basket gets $500K grant to increase consumption of Hawaii-grown produce

Updated: 
June 17, 2017 - 12:05am

HILO — The Food Basket, Hawaii Island’s food bank, was awarded a half-million dollar grant to encourage and increase consumption of produce grown in Hawaii.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture provided the $500,000 Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Grant, which will cover costs for four years.

“The grant will allow the implementation of ‘Da Bux,’ a new program which will support the purchase of Hawaii-grown fresh fruit and vegetables among low-income consumers participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) through incentives at the point of purchase,” says the Food Basket’s announcement.

KTA Super Stores will partner with the food bank to find ways to implement the program.

Although details have not been finalized, planners are hopeful they can encourage purchase of produce by giving a grant-funded credit on a person’s EBT card once the person buys a certain amount of produce, for example. Farmers markets might do something similar, but again, plans aren’t final.

Planners are scheduled to meet next week to iron out details.

Another idea is to help families get Community Supported Agriculture boxes.

If a consumer covers the cost of part of the month, grant funds might be used to finance the rest of the month’s CSA supply. CSA boxes vary, but typically contain a weekly supply of produce that currently in season.

The Fair Food Network, which has experience making incentive programs work, plans to help roll out the program.

The grant was designed to support residents in need of food, but also to financially support Big Island farmers.

“We have always wanted people to eat local, and now we’re going to make it even easier,” Toby Taniguchi, KTA Super Stores president and COO, said in the announcement released Friday.

The Food Basket serves 13,649 unduplicated Hawaii County residents each month.

Email Jeff Hansel at jhansel@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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