Food is an important part of our culture and community. Students in Mrs. Karen de Brum’s high school expository writing class set out to understand how the food we eat on Lanai affects who we are, how we feel and what we will become.
Over the course of a year, students conducted a community food assessment for Lanai by surveying over 600 full-time residents, hosting community focus groups, and analyzing quantitative and qualitative research. The project was generously funded through a grant from the Conservation Fund and organized in partnership with Lanai nonprofit Laulima Kuhao.
On the evening of Tuesday, May 15, the yearlong project culminated in a presentation of students’ findings. Their efforts may very well drive the direction of the future of food on Lanai.
Barriers to eating healthy
With guidance from strategist and analyst Lisa Grove, students worked diligently to gain community input that accurately represented a cross section of Lanai’s multicultural community.
Their research uncovered the difficulties residents face when it comes to eating healthy. Residents expressed difficulty with adopting a healthy diet because fresh food is relatively more expensive. Instead, families resort to consuming canned meats such as Spam, corned beef and Vienna sausage and microwavable foods.
Residents overwhelmingly stated that they want to see a wider variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and a selection of more affordable protein options in Lanai’s grocery stores. They also indicated that they are willing to purchase local produce if it is available, even if it comes at a higher price.
Students also had the opportunity to explore their own eating habits. Their research allowed them to gain a heightened awareness of how what they eat contributes to their overall health and well-being.
Most of all, students said the research project helped them improve their confidence when speaking to others, both in one-on-one conversations as well as in public presentations.
Mrs. de Brum and her students would like to extend their sincere gratitude to Laulima Kuhao, headed by Lea Hennessy, Kainoa Kanno, Krista Kanno, George Purdy and Stevie Tabura. They would also like to thank all others that were involved in this extensive process. Together with the community, students hope to drive awareness for a healthier and happier Lanai.