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Sharing Food is Part of our Culture

Sharing Food is Part of our Culture

By Andreana Dudoit Reyes

“I ola no ke kino, i ka māʻona o ka ʻōpū: The body enjoys health when the stomach is well filled.” – ʻŌlelo Noʻeau

Hui, how you?” “Eh, come inside, go eat!” is the usual exchange of greetings when visiting a home in Hawaiʻi. Sharing food is an important part of our culture, playing a key role in connecting ʻohana and communities. These cultural practices contribute to our overall health and wellbeing. However, the steady rise of Hawaiʻi’s cost of living (food costs in Honolulu increased by 5.6% in 2020), the significant number of people without a livable income (including 40% of all Native Hawaiian families), and other factors limit access to food, especially nutrient-rich healthy foods.

Food insecurity across Hawaiʻi is an ongoing public health concern. Feeding America reports that one in six people in Hawaiʻi were food insecure in 2020, up from one in nine in 2019. Most alarmingly, Hawaiʻi ranks second highest in the nation for food insecurity among children, with one in four children falling into this category. This is not just a transient problem. Adequate nutrition is critical to the overall development of children and food insecurity is directly linked to their health, educational, and behavioral outcomes.

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