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Putting local first

LIHU‘E — Lihu‘e resident Janice Bond said she always gets fresh flowers when she is able to.

A bunch of locally-grown flowers accompanied her order of Kaua‘i-grown produce that arrived Saturday via delivery man Mike Dandurand for the Kaua‘i Food Hub.

“She’s out of the Wainiha-to-Wailua delivery area,” Dandurand said. “But we can make it work. Normally, we as Kustom Sounds would be at weddings or parties. But with the COVID-19, there are no more of those kinds of events. I still have the trucks, so I told my drivers to use the trucks to help deliver for the Kaua‘i Food Hub.”

Taking its first orders Tuesday, the Kaua‘i Food Hub is an online marketplace of locally-grown-and-produced food. Its mission is to create a bridge for farmers and customers and aims to improve community resilience and food security on Kaua‘i.

“This is important,” Dandurand said. “We need to grow our own food — food security. Right now, we bring in 80% of the food we consume. The Public Utilities Commission recently approved a 46% rate increase for Young Brothers effective September. What is that going to do to the prices on the retailers’ shelves?”

On its website, the Kaua‘i Food Hub provides an alternative option for farmers and food producers to continue sales in an
increasingly-unstable Hawai‘i.

“We need to support local,” Dandurand said. “The state Legislature passed SB2722 this session. This bill requires the (state) Department of Agriculture to establish a five-year food-hub pilot program to increase access to local food. We have this when the Kaua‘i Food Hub got off the ground Tuesday.”

Currently, shoppers visit kauaifoodhub.org, look over the selection of produce, including fresh eggs — many at below-market pricing, and place their orders for items desired. The Kaua‘i Food Hub puts the selection together and delivers either to the home, or to a pick-up site between Wainiha and Wailua.

Deliveries take place twice weekly. For orders placed by noon Wednesday, delivery is Saturday. For orders placed by noon Saturday, delivery is Wednesday.

If computer access is a problem, shoppers can call 634-8102. The Kaua‘i Food Hub is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. It is closed on Saturday and Sunday.

Shopper options include creating a gift package for friends, and even the option of getting gift certificates for future use.

Additionally, the Kaua‘i Food Hub is in the process of being able to accept orders under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

“It’s real easy,” Bond said. “When I learned of the website, I just went, placed orders for what I wanted, and Mike is delivering the order. I always get fresh flowers. Even at the farmers’ market I get bunches of flowers.”

For farmers and agrigators, a term used by Dandurand to describer producers of island-made products, they simply visit the website and apply to the program by clicking the “Sell” button. Once approved, they are able to market their offerings on the website.

Dandurand is in the field of political hopefuls looking to fill one of seven seats on the Kaua‘i County Council.

“Politics has nothing to do with my advocacy of supporting local,” he said. “I finished number 14 in the primary clection, and to try and get to the top seven is pretty hard to do. There is ‘talk,’ and there is ‘walk’ — I do both. Supporting local is important. Even in my campaign, I met this young lady who makes cookies, and I placed an order to use during my meet-and-greets.”

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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