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Hawaii Agriculture Foundation’s restaurant initiative supports education, sustainability

  • Photo courtesy of Verde Restaurants

    Purchasing Verde Restaurants’ burrito with braised Makaweli beef raises funds for agricultural education through the Localicious initiative.

  • Photo courtesy of Anuenue Cafe

    Localicious items, like Anuenue Cafe’s kalua pork fried rice, brings awareness of locally sourced foods.

Helping Hawaii’s future farmers is as easy as picking up a menu.

The fifth annual Localicious Hawaii is celebrating the role restaurants play in supporting local agriculture in a month-long dining out promotion that started March 1. A record 262 restaurants are participating in “Localicious,” the state’s largest restaurant initiative.

During the campaign that coincides with National Agricultural Day, participating restaurants will designate one or more menu items that incorporate locally grown, caught or raised products as a Localicious dish. For every Localicious dish ordered throughout the month of March, restaurants will donate $1 to the Hawaii Agricultural Foundation to support agricultural education programs in public schools statewide.

“Our mission is to strengthen Hawaii’s agricultural industry and the future of local food production,” said Denise Hayashi Yamaguchi, executive director of HAF. “Localicious restaurants are an integral part of this movement, and we thank them for coming together to make this year’s campaign the biggest ever.”

Localicious Hawaii aims to raise public awareness of restaurants that are active supporters of the state’s agricultural industry. Proceeds raised from the promotion help fund HAF’s educational programs, including Where Would Be Without Seeds, Veggie U, AquaPono Aquaponics, In The Fields, and Kids Cooking Local.

“Localicious plays an important role in uniting restaurants, the agriculture industry, and consumers with a common goal of moving Hawaii to a more sustainable future,” said Russell Hata, president and CEO of ChefZone. “In addition to gathering support from the restaurants and the community, Localicious supports longevity in the agriculture industry by introducing ag-related careers to children at a young age.”

Since the program’s launch in 2014, Localicious has raised more than $170,000 to provide 70 public schools and 200 classrooms statewide with garden kits and structured agriculture-related curriculums.

The program is currently only offered to fourth graders with the intent to expand to other grade levels in the future.

This year’s goal is to raise $50,000.

“Kauai is an important part of the Hawaii Agricultural Foundation’s 5th annual Localicious restaurant initiative, with the number of Kauai restaurants growing each year,” said Rebecca Pang, initiative spokeswoman.

Kauai restaurants participating in Localicious include Anuenue Cafe, Eating House by Roy Yamaguchi in Koloa, Gaylord’s at Kilohana, Hanalei Taro &Juice Co., Hukilau Lanai, Japanese Grandma Cafe, Lava Lava Beach Club Kauai, Mark’s Place, MCS Grill, Oasis on the Beach, Plantation Gardens, Verde Restaurant (both Kapaa and Lihue locations) and 7-Eleven Hawaii.

“As a local business owner in a small community, we can identify with the challenges any other local businesses of any industry face to cultivate sustainability,” said Maris Manzano, owner of Kauai’s Verde Restaurant. “Localicious is a great opportunity to specifically promote local food, grown or made, as a platform to support local families, to preserve farmland, to invest in long-term food security and to engage a connection between grower and consumer.”

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