Farm bureau pur­chase/ give­away pro­gram ex­tended

The Maui News - - News - The Maui News

A Maui County Farm Bureau pro­gram that pur­chases pro­duce for give­away to food pro­grams will con­tinue to July 31.

The farm bureau’s Farm Prod­uct Pur­chase Pro­gram was ex­tended by Maui County with an in­fu­sion of $300,000.

Com­mer­cial farm­ers who have pro­duce avail­able are wel­come to join this pro­gram. Mem­ber­ship in the farm bureau is not a re­quire­ment. To par­tic­i­pate, con­tact Heidi Watan­abe, pro­gram pro­duce co­or­di­na­tor, at (808) 3578593.

When the COVID-19 lock­down closed most of Maui’s ho­tels and restau­rants in late March, Maui farm­ers’ whole­sale mar­kets dis­ap­peared overnight, said War­ren K. Watan­abe, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the farm bureau. The farm bureau set up the Farm Prod­uct Pur­chase Pro­gram to pur­chase pro­duce from Maui farm­ers and do­nate the har­vest to Feed My Sheep, Maui Food Bank and Sal­va­tion Army, pro­grams feed­ing res­i­dents in need on Maui, Molokai and Lanai.

The pro­gram launched April 2 and ini­tially was set to run through May 9. The pro­gram’s suc­cess and added fi­nan­cial con­tri­bu­tions by the county and the non­profit group Ulupono kept the pro­gram alive through June, the farm bureau said.

With the county ex­tend­ing fund­ing through July 31, the food pur­chase and dis­tri­bu­tion pro­gram con­tin­ues into its fourth month, the farm bureau said.

Through the pro­gram, the county pur­chases ev­ery­thing from straw­ber­ries to daikon, pineap­ple to kale from Maui com­mer­cial farms. To be el­i­gi­ble, a farm had to have sold an av­er­age of $2,500 per month in pro­duce prior to March.

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