Nourishing Hawai‘i’s students, now and for the future

Posted on May 31, 2022 in Capitol Connection, Featured, Main

When children are hungry, they can’t learn.” That simple yet fundamental statement is at the heart of First Lady Dawn Amano-Ige’s dedication to projects she’s spearheaded in Hawai‘i, such as Kau Kau 4 Keiki, Grab and Go meals, and Jumpstart Breakfast. It’s also part of why she’s been invited to join the leadership council of Share Our Strength, the organization committed to ending childhood hunger across the country.

“We’re providing the summer Kaukau 4 Keiki meals again, but at on-site locations to ensure every keiki has access to a healthy meal,” Mrs. Ige said. “This year we’re working with non-profit organizations so children will have meals, even if they’re not in school during the summer.” As a former educator, she’s been focused on the effect of childhood hunger on student success. “On the No Kid Hungry council, we’re looking at sharing some of the best practices in Hawai‘i so we can help other communities,” she explained. “We know there is a high percentage of children in food insecure situations. That shouldn’t happen here or anywhere.” More details on the project will be available soon at https://www.kaukau4keiki.org/. HMSA is a sponsor this year, providing funds, volunteers and educational materials.

Governor Ige, Mrs. Ige and Kristi Yamaguchi.

Governor Ige, Mrs. Ige and Kristi Yamaguchi.

The First Lady also was honored recently by Kristi Yamaguchi’s Always Dream organization for spearheading the ‘Ohana Readers program  — both of which promote keiki literacy. “We’re really excited about our ‘Ohana Readers’ numbers,” said Mrs. Ige. “Right now we have had 8,500 books distributed over the past three years among 550 households. The program partners with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to provide free books to children under age five.

The first graduates of the Ka‘u Global Learning Lab, one of many GEER projects.

The first graduates of the Ka‘u Global Learning Lab, one of many GEER projects.

In addition, Mrs. Ige has been visiting as many projects as she can that have received funds from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) grants. The programs have included Ka‘u High School students who earned college credits as part of their Global Learning Lab, Camp Mokule‘ia’s Mixed Plate, Assets School, and the Center for Tomorrow’s Leaders involving students from several high schools statewide. “It does take a village to educate a child,” said Mrs. Ige. “These innovative partnerships between schools and community groups give us the best of both worlds in resources and expertise.  They’re helping students connect to their communities and making up for time lost during the pandemic.”

Read more in the June Capitol Connection newsletter.

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