Meet the high schooler tackling food insecurity — one fruit tree at a time

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Drawing inspiration from her household’s avocado tree, excessive schooler Sophie Chen determined to take issues into her personal arms to deal with meals insecurity in Hawaii.

“I knew concerning the issues surrounding meals insecurity on the island. I personally have an avocado tree in my yard. And yearly we’re all the time attempting to offer away these recent avocados. I all the time thought it was an excessive amount of for us to deal with individually as a household,” Sophie mentioned.

Due to this fruitful dilemma, Sophie determined as a substitute of letting these avocados go to waste, why not donate them to these in want.

Being only a sophomore at Punahou Faculty, Sophie just lately based the nonprofit, The Kokua Tree.

She just lately sat down with HNN to explain the work the group is doing to bolster meals sustainability in Hawaii within the fifth episode of “Repairing Earth.”

The initiative companions with households or anybody who’s to choose vegatables and fruits from their backyards. The recent produce is then donated to starvation aid organizations like Aloha Harvest, the Hawaii Foodbank and the Pantry.

Sophie added {that a} huge cause why she began this program was to offer a strategy to get native produce to those that can’t all the time afford it.

“Produce is so costly within the grocery shops and even the comfort shops so you probably have a low earnings or should you’re experiencing meals insecurity, you’re not going to show to provide as your supply of diet for the day,” she mentioned.

In response to Feeding America, 1 in 9 folks face starvation in Hawaii — with about 1 in 5 being kids.

“With the meals insecurity downside right here, it type of felt like a one plus one, so I began this complete Kokua Tree concept,” Sophie mentioned. “Plus, I feel lots of people know folks with fruit timber on the island. Like that is simply the right local weather to have your personal yard fruit tree.”

Enlisting the assistance of different younger of us, the group has already had 4 harvests.

Collectively they’ve gathered 850 kilos of produce, which is equal to saving round $3,000 in meals.

The group has filled boxes of fruit from people's backyards, including mountain apples, bananas...
The group has stuffed containers of fruit from folks’s backyards, together with mountain apples, bananas and avocados.(The Kokua Tree)

“Our meals waste on Hawaii is a very huge difficulty and if we tied it with meals insecurity, it’s a very huge disgrace that we’re throwing out round 26% of our annual meals provide per yr,” Sophie mentioned.

“So, the Kokua Tree is hopefully attempting to offer a sustainable resolution to this downside by preserving it in Hawaii. And that method we’re supporting native, we’re slicing down on fossil gas combustion from all of the delivery that is available in right here, and we’re additionally preserving produce away from invasive bugs and animals.”

At present, Hawaii ships in round 85% to 95% of its meals — largely from the continental US.

From the farming course of itself to transporting produce, all of this contributes to our private carbon footprint.

“Individually, you possibly can undoubtedly minimize down in your meals waste. When you’re letting your meals expire or should you’re shopping for an excessive amount of of it then it contributes to the landfills, which after all releases methane emissions into the air. So in a minor method, that’s one strategy to do it.”

However most significantly, Sophie mentioned the easiest way to make an influence is to become involved.

“I feel quite a lot of our volunteers, particularly on our final property, felt much more linked to the land in a method. And that’s a giant a part of rising up right here,” Sophie mentioned.

“It was a very nice expertise and if you wish to educate your self on this downside, the easiest way to do it’s to get some hands-on expertise, to get your arms within the mud, choose some fruit after which donate it.”

For extra on the dialog, take heed to Episode 5 of Repairing Earth, “Paving a Path Toward Food Sustainability in Hawaii,” on the HNN web site or wherever you get your podcasts.

When you’re focused on serving to out with the mission, electronic mail For the newest on their work, it’s also possible to observe them on Instagram @thekokuatree.

Copyright 2022 Hawaii Information Now. All rights reserved.

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