Teacher Gives Tasty G.I.F.T. To Home­less

MidWeek Islander (East Oahu) - - FRONT PAGE - By MELISSA MONIZ

In just one month, Vi­vian Chau’s Give It Fresh To­day ( G. I. F. T.) pro­gram at Ka­pi­olani Com­mu­nity Col­lege’s Farm­ers’Mar­ket col­lected more than 850 pounds of pro­duce to feed the home­less.

“Just the gen­eros­ity that I get to see and ex­pe­ri­ence be­cause of this pro­gram is amaz­ing,” said Chau, an en­rich­ment teacher at As­sets School. “The whole com­mu­nity has re­ally ral­lied around it.”

The idea to get healthy food into the mouths of those who can’t af­ford it sparked af­ter Chau watched a few films about healthy eat­ing, in­clud­ing Food. Inc., In­gre­di­ents and Eat Lo­cal. But it wasn’t un­til a trip to Chicago last Oc­to­ber that Chau was in­tro­duced to the con­cept of a fresh pro­duce drive.

“In Chicago there was a woman who had a sim­i­lar pro­gram at a farm­ers’ mar­ket,” said Chau. “She had a bas­ket and was col­lect­ing food for a lo­cal food pantry.”

Chau con­tacted the In­sti­tute for Hu­man Ser­vices and Unity Church of Hawaii, which both ex­pressed in­ter­est in re­ceiv­ing fresh pro­duce for their meal ser­vices. Chau also

ap­proached the Hawaii Farm Bureau Fed­er­a­tion, spon­sor of the KCC Farm­ers’Mar­ket, to in­quire about start­ing such a pro­gram.

She was given the green light in Jan­uary and has col­lected an av­er­age of 200 pounds of food each Satur­day since.

“Many of the shop­pers have made it a habit to stop by and drop some­thing off,” said Chau. “They’ll take half of what they bought and give it to us, or they’ll take one tomato from their bag and give that to us. And the farm­ers have some­where to bring their leftover pro­duce.

“More and more farm­ers are par­tic­i­pat­ing, but I never wanted the pro­gram to be about the farm­ers do­nat­ing, be­cause they are do­ing their part by grow­ing the food.”

The one-month trial pe­riod has ex­ploded into pos­si­bil­i­ties, and Chau will not only be ex­tend­ing G.I.V.E.’s stay at KCC, but she is in the works of ex­pand­ing the pro­gram to other mar­kets.

“Right now the or­ga­ni­za­tions are still able to use ev­ery­thing we give them, but as we ex­pand, we will be need­ing or­ga­ni­za­tions that are able to ac­cept fresh pro­duce, and have the cold stor­age needed to house the pro­duce un­til it’s served,” added Chau.

Un­ex­pected by its founder, the G.I.V.E. pro­gram has en­cour­aged do­na­tions be­yond pur­chases at the mar­ket — many peo­ple are bring­ing in pro­duce from home.

“Those who have bread­fruit trees will bring us bread­fruit, and some will come with card­board boxes filled with tan­ger­ines,” said Chau. “There was a sweet older woman who brought hand­picked string beans from her gar­den. It’s been so cool to see the ways peo­ple want to help.”

The G.I.F.T. booth, lo­cated next to the Hawaii Farm Bureau, ac­cepts fresh pro­duce and mon­e­tary do­na­tions dur­ing mar­ket hours: 7:30-11 a.m. ev­ery Satur­day. For more in­for­ma­tion or to vol­un­teer, e-mail Chau at giveit­fresh­to­day@gmail.com.

Give It Fresh To­day (G.I.F.T.) founder Vi­vian Chau with boyfriend William Best col­lect a va­ri­ety of fresh pro­duce at KCC’s weekly farm­ers’ mar­ket to help feed Hawaii’s hun­gry and pro­mote healthy eat­ing. Photo from Chau.

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