Categorized | Featured, Food

Could ulu help alleviate hunger?

Students at West Hawaii Community College Culinary Arts Program process steamed ulu for vacuum packing and freezing. (Photo courtesy of Craig Elevitch)


The newly launched Breadfruit Harvest for Hunger project harvests breadfruit in Kona and distributes it to the food insecure.

The project is based upon the simple fact that there are many people on Hawaii Island without enough nutritious food to eat, and at the same time there are literally tons of breadfruit that are not being harvested and eaten. Breadfruit (ulu) is a local, abundant and nutritious food that can be used to alleviate hunger in Hawaii.

Breadfruit is a traditional staple crop throughout the Pacific region. According to Dr. Diane Ragone, director of the Breadfruit Institute of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, more than 80 percent of the world’s hungry live in tropical and subtropical regions where ecological conditions are suitable for cultivating breadfruit.

Just like in Hawaii, many people in the tropics have high food, fuel and fertilizer costs and need sustainable, low-input crops. Many island nations are turning to breadfruit as a solution.

According to a survey done by Hawaii Homegrown Food Network, people who grow breadfruit reported that 46 percent is wasted. At the same time, many of Hawaii’s families are food insecure — lacking access to affordable and nutritious food.

In its first month of operation, Breadfruit Harvest for Hunger harvested, distributed and processed more than 500 pounds of breadfruit.

The project builds relationships with landowners who have excess breadfruit and forms an agreement to harvest. The breadfruit is then distributed through social service agencies such as the Kealakehe Meet and Eat, Ocean View Food Basket and Hawaii Island Youth Corps. Excess breadfruit is processed and frozen for future use by the West Hawaii Community College Culinary Arts Program.

The Breadfruit Harvest for Hunger project was started with the support of the Omidyar Ohana Fund of the Hawaii Community Foundation. It is an initiative of Hooulu ka Ulu — a project to revitalize ulu (breadfruit) as an attractive, delicious, nutritious, abundant, affordable, and culturally appropriate food which addresses Hawaii’s food security issues.

The Hooulu ka Ulu project is led by Hawaii Homegrown Food Network and the Breadfruit Institute of the National Tropical Botanical Garden.

The project is seeking additional partnerships with landowners who have excess breadfruit and agencies that serve the food insecure.

For more information or to donate breadfruit from your trees, email or call Andrea Dean at 960-3727.

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The Breadfruit Harvest for Hunger project harvest fruit from trees like this one in Holualoa. (Photo courtesy of Craig Elevitch)

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