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Food to Grow: Growing a Healthy Future in Hawaii

| Hawaii


More and more people in Hawaii are growing food at home! The University of Hawaii (UH) SNAP-Ed’s Food to Grow (FTG) program is helping. We partner with community agencies to distribute vegetable seedlings, growing instructions, and other resources to community members.

photo 1: child transplanting seedling with grandmother, photo 2: participant growing eggplant from seedling kit, photo 3: child transplanting seedling from newspaper pot into recycled container


Many people in Hawaii didn’t know that their SNAP benefits could be used to buy fruit, vegetable, and herb seeds and plants. Growing food from seeds and plants makes SNAP benefits last longer, allowing recipients to double the value of their benefits over time.

photo 1: seedling distribution with agency staff; photo 2: seniors after agency was trained and conducted their own FTG workshop; photo 3: sisters caring for transplanted seedling at home; photo 4: train-the-trainer FTG program


With inspiration from University of California Davis SNAP-Ed program, UH SNAP-Ed started its Food to Grow (FTG) program in June of 2020. By the end of May 2022, more than 1650 seedlings, growing instructions, and related resources have been given out at 30 community partner events and programs reaching participants of all ages. Participants are encouraged to send photos of themselves with their transplanted seedlings to post on the FTG website. FTG also conducts train-the-trainer workshops for agency staff to facilitate their own FTG classes.

Surveys have shown:

  • 66% didn’t know that SNAP benefits could be used to buy fruit, vegetable, and herb seeds and plants
  • 32% had never grown food before
4 quotes: "Mahalo (thank you) for this activity. The keiki (children) had lots of fun and can’t wait to grow more." “We loved the education on healthy foods, habits, and plants that were shared to the community and families.” "This is a great program! It is an easy way to help people get started." "I am truly enjoying the planting-what-you-eat approach to better health and savings."

Sustaining Success

FTG continues to grow! In the last year, seedling kit distributions have expanded from Oahu to include the neighbor islands of Molokai and Kauai. We have increased the number of events from 8 in our first year to 22 in our second year. We have also increased the number of seedling kits distributed from 247 to 1405.

Contact Information: Deanna Au-Wong (808) 956-4124
Program Website: Food to Grow
Organization Website: Hawaiʻi Nutrition Center

USDA supplemental nutrition assistance program Putting Healthy Food within Reach


Food To Grow
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