A new pilot program in Hawaii should help another 100 or so of the state’s local growers get their food into local hotels.
House Bill No. 1471 was passed into law late July and established the Food Certification Pilot program, which will be managed by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, with assistance from the Hawaii Department of Health.
The program is designed to coordinate purchasing agreements between agricultural cooperatives and hotels, restaurants and other buyers in the visitor and hospitality industries, according to the bill. The pilot program should help with that by developing and implementing safe food certification for locally grown produce.
Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle vetoed the bill originally, saying the program “appears to be a gesture to improve food safety without the teeth necessary to make it a viable program,” according to West Hawaii Today.
The Hawaii Tourism Authority Special Fund will allocate $140,000 to establish the program. The idea is that if safe, local food is offered to local hotels and eating establishments, it could help Hawaii tourism.
Lingle argued there was no real connection to tourism. Her veto was overridden by the Legislature late July.
According to the West Hawaii Today article, only 32 of the state’s 2,000 farms are food safety certified by third-party audit. Supporters of the pilot program from the hotel and restaurant industry in Hawaii said food safety was a major concern for them, and that if good agricultural practices were followed and assured to buyers, it could make a big difference.