Farm to School Programs - Background and Request for Information

* 1. BACKGROUND:
The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA)’s Hawaii Farm to School (HI-F2S) Program strives to improve student health by increasing locally grown food consumed in Hawaii schools and expanding relationships between public schools and agricultural communities. 

Hawaii's F2S coordinator implements the HI-F2S Program and serves as the primary liaison between Hawaii's agricultural industry, State departments, and other stakeholders interested in increasing utilization and consumption of locally produced food in Hawaii, in pursuit of the five (5) goals of the F2S Program:
1) Improving student health;
2) Developing an educated agricultural workforce;
3) Enriching the local food system through the support and increase of local food procurement for the State's public schools and other institutions;
4) Accelerating garden and farm-based education for the State's public school students; and
5) Expand the relationships between public schools and agricultural communities.  
 
SCOPE:
The intent of this Request for Information (RFI) is to identify available supply, as well as producers and distributors of locally grown food for consideration in upcoming F2S program solicitations, and HDOA's Hawaiian Harvest of the Month (HHOM) program to promote in-season Hawaii-grown food for student activities, HHOM recipe development, HHOM school meal promotion, and information gathering to promote local farmers/ local harvests across Hawaii.
-  To gather direct local food supply information from farmers and distributors to develop a more specialized understanding of local food supply;
-  To better inform local food buying strategies for our schools and other institutions;
-  To better inform State entities on local food purchasing and community networking opportunities;
-  To access F2S proposal ideas from across the state.

The information received through this RFI will assist the HDOA F2S Coordinator’s efforts to assist various State departments with various F2S Initiatives, such as increasing more locally grown food in the Department of Education's school food programs, and growing community connections with local farms.  Such initiatives strive to positively influence keiki relationships with their food and the `āina (that which feeds us), enhancing the healthy of school meals by decreasing the distance and time food travels between farms and students, while increasing local farm connections with the students to promote the consumption of locally grown food.

DEFINITION OF “LOCAL”:  This RFI defines “local” as grown within the state of Hawaii, with an additional geographical preference by island.

CONTRACTING WITH STATE:  Requirements to become a vendor for the state are certified through Hawaii Compliance Express (“HCE”).  Additional information about the HCE process is available at: http://spo.hawaii.gov/hce/ . 
Note: respondents to this RFI are not required to have HCE compliance, as this RFI  is not a solicitation for a government contract, and has no potential to create a contractual relationship in itself.

DISCLOSURES:
Ø  Participation in this request for information is optional and is not a requirement to respond to any subsequent procurement action that the HDOA or other State entities may take;
Ø  Any information obtained through this RFI will be used for HDOA market research purposes only, and will not obligate the State to procure any particular produce from any particular vendor in the future, nor be used against a potential future vendor for consideration in any future solicitations;
Ø Neither the HDOA nor the interested party responding bears any obligation under this request for information, and any information provided may be used by the HDOA without incurring any obligation or liability o

* 2. PROPOSAL RECOMMENDATIONS:
Please provide recommendations which will accomplish the objectives of the Department of Agriculture's Farm to School Program, which is to positively influence keiki relationships with their food and the `āina (that which feeds us).

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