The Food Basket-Hawai‘i Island’s Food Bank took its first stride in creating place-based nutrition education resources for Hawai‘i’s keiki (the Hawaiian word for children). Launched in 2021, the book Kai and Hōkū Explore Foods of Hawaiʻi helps families and early childcare providers explore local fruits and vegetables with their children. It features the popular mascots, Kai and Hōkū, of the Keiki Heroes public health initiative as they learn about eight crops commonly grown in Hawai‘i, including ‘ulu (breadfruit) and kāpiki pākē (bok choy). The book offers hands-on learning activities and simple recipes, making each fruit and vegetable an exciting adventure and valuable learning experience for young food explorers.
This keiki nutrition education effort is an integral service of The Food Basket’s DA BUX Double Up Food Bucks program (also known as “DA BUX”), a statewide program working to increase the purchase and consumption of Hawai‘i-grown fruits and vegetables by Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants. When SNAP shoppers use their federal food benefits to purchase qualifying local produce at participating DA BUX food retailers, they receive a 50% discount. DA BUX subsidizes their purchases with funding that comes primarily from the USDA Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program.
By getting children and their families excited about eating more local fruits and vegetables, The Food Basket aims to increase participation in the DA BUX and aligns with USDA’s goal to tackle food and nutrition insecurity by expanding access to and increasing consumption of affordable, healthy food for all Americans.