Food Empowerment Accomplishments
Same Canoe was honored to be the first project in Hawaii to receive an award to address food insecurity by connecting low income families and seniors with more fresh and local food and local farms. In North and West Hawaii, where the USDA-funded pilot project took place, One Island’s Same Canoe project enrolled 450 SNAP households that qualified for local food matching coupons.
During the Summer and Fall of 2015, for each $30 in grocery receipts that a SNAP* household turned in, that showed EBT purchases of fresh produce from any grocer, pre-enrolled households received a one-to-one match ($30-$120) in local food coupons that were redeemable at approved Farmers’ Markets, at special grocery store events, and for farm tours and classes. (*Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program – formerly Food Stamps)
Same Canoe hosted information booths with on-site sign-ups at the South Kona (Sunday), Kona Sunset (Wednesday) and Hawi (Saturday) Farmers’ Market. Plus on high traffic EBT days, sign-ups took place at two heavy-traffic, local, family-owned grocery stores.
The Same Canoe farmers’ market booths highlighted local farm produce, announced upcoming events, and encouraged visitors to complete a food challenge survey that provided a ticket for drawings for discount coupons at local food supporter merchants. Plus we hosted food and nutrition demonstrations right at the market.
During the December-March period, the project tested alternate methods for community engagement, providing EBT shoppers with the opportunity to enroll for coupons that could be used at a wider variety of venues, including grocery store events and wide CSA promotion, in addition to the Farmers’ Market access points.
Over 45 Farmers’ Market Vendors accepted the Same Canoe local food coupons at the South Kona Green Market on Sundays in Captain Cook, Kona Sunset Market at K-Mart in Kailua on Wednesday afternoon and evenings, and the Hawi Farmers Market on Saturdays. Fresh produce and products with 51% local ingredients qualified for purchases with the Same Canoe coupons. Special events were also held to distribute coupons for shoping at Choice Mart in Captain Cook and Takata Store in Kapa’au. Outreach into the community included events at Senior Center, Health Clinic, low income housing, Senior Nutrition, local Library and Public Schools.
SNAP households could also use the coupons to enroll in the fresh local food CSA food box programs hosted by the Food Basket’s ‘Da Box’, by Adaptations’ ‘Fresh Feast’ and by the Blue Dragon Farm CSA. CSA are Community Supported Agriculture programs that provide pre-sorted boxes with great locally grown foods through a subscription arrangement (costs range from $10-$35 a week and Same Canoe coupons can be used towards these fees).
“When we listened to what Farmers are asking for we heard ‘Bring us MORE customers wanting to purchase fresh Island grown produce that builds the local food system and supports local farmers.’ The Same Canoe initiative is the direct result of that request. The Project’s goal is to increase consumer readiness to choose locally grown over imported foods and thereby improve local health and strengthen local farmer income, sustainable agriculture AND island food security.”
Funded by the USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture, the new grant was one of 16 pilots supported nationwide. Plans are underway to request additional funding to expand the project island wide.