Food Security is the ability to acquire locally produced food that is safe and nutritious in a socially ethical way.
Today, 1 of every 5 Hawaiʻi residents live in food insecure households. Sadly, the highest at-risk population for food insecurity are youth and elders. Waiʻanae is the most food insecure community statewide at a rate of 33%. Other high-risk food insecure communities on the island of Oʻahu include Kahuku and Waialua. Food Insecurity is associated with poorer physical and mental health, higher levels of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
Many of these conditions are due to the lack of locally available healthy foods, as well as the consumption of less nutritious food choices. Wai`anae’s two major health clinics fight a constant battle to remedy diet-related health problems using both Western, alternative and Hawaiian medical techniques.
And yet this is not our community’s history. Wai‘anae was once a self-sufficient region that was able to produce adequate amounts of food while managing its land and water resources in a highly sustainable manner.
Our purpose is to restore our ancestral abundance- to empower our community, especially our youth, with catalytic educational and entrepreneurial opportunities that is rooted in our ancestral knowledge and that will nurture a sustainable, resilient and just 21st century Hawai‘i.
With this intention in mind, farmers, educators, business owners, and residents from our moku put aloha ʻāina into action and established the non-profit, 501 c 3, Waiʻanae Community Re-Development Corporation (WCRC) and its flagship initiative, the MA‘O Community Food Security Initiative or collectively known as MAʻO.
MA‘O is the acronym for mala ‘ai ‘opio which translates as the youth food garden. MAʻO connects two of our most precious assets, our ʻāina- that which feeds and our ʻopio, our youth to create a movement that will build a comprehensive and living local food system—educate and empower youth, fight hunger and injustice, improve our health and nutrition, and grow a local, organic and fair agriculture industry—all connected to empower our community to move towards self-sufficiency.
Interconnected economic development and educational programming have been woven together to establish, strengthen, and amplify our social enterprise imperatives above to achieve our mission, including:
- MA‘O Organic Farms. MAʻO Organic Farms is a 23-acre certified organic farm located in Lualualei valley in Waiʻanae. MAʻO Organic Farms is a business that trains new farmers and community leaders by having them co-manage the social enterprise operations as they produce, process, market and distribute over 2 tons of a diverse array of high quality organic fruits and vegetables.
- MAʻO ʻAuwai. The ʻAuwai is an interconnected and seamless edu-preneurial learning environment that serves our youth, families and the entire community, from keiki to kupuna, from pre-K to post-doc. These activities include:
- Farm To Fork Program (all ages)
- Kauhale H.S. Internships (organic ag, digital media, pre-AA program)
- MAʻO Youth Leadership Training (organic ag, AA program)
- Kauhale Youth Leadership Training (digital media, AA program)
- Hoʻowaiwai Youth Leadership Training (all fields, AA & BA programs)
- Mohala Externships (all fields, BA programs)