The Hawai`i State Department of Education is continuing its ‘Aina Pono: Harvest of the Month program for a second year.
This month, participating public schools statewide will be serving ‘Ulu Beef Stew. The new lunch entrée features locally grown breadfruit, thanks to an ongoing partnership with Hawai‘i ‘Ulu Producers Cooperative. Members of the Hawai`i Cattlemen’s Council and the Hawai`i Beef Industry Council will be providing the locally raised meat in the student lunches on Hawai`i Island, Kauai, Molokai and Lanai.
HUPC is a farmer-owned and -operated business that was established in August 2016 with nine members on Hawai`i Island. Today, there are more than 50 breadfruit farmer-members who help to provide a supply of breadfruit nearly year-round.
“Sharing this ancient Hawaiian staple with our younger generation is a great way to show our keiki what our land can provide,” said Dana Shapiro, manager of HUPC. “Breadfruit grows abundantly throughout the islands and we’ve been experiencing a revived interest from consumers, producers, researchers, community groups and policy makers as our state strives to become more self-sufficient, given that more than 80 percent of our food supply is imported.”
‘Ulu made its school lunch debut during the 2017-18 school year in a local-style burrito, combined with shredded kalua pork, spinach and homemade salsa. To showcase the cooking versatility of breadfruit, a new recipe was created.
“We did some experimentations with the breadfruit and found out it worked well in a favorite local dish like Beef Stew,” said Dann Carlson, assistant superintendent, Office of School Facilities and Support Services. “‘Aina Pono opportunities like this allow us to help transform the way our students eat and introduce them to locally grown produce.”
Additionally, Carlson said the partnership with HUPC would help with Hawai`i’s economy.
“Buying from our local farmers and ranchers helps to support Hawaii’s economic growth and assist in agricultural development,” said Carlson. “October is also National Farm to School Month, and having our schools participate in the ‘Aina Pono: Harvest of the Month program is the perfect way to celebrate.”
Locally grown products previously featured in the ‘Aina Pono: Harvest of the Month program included beef, bananas, papayas and pineapples.