(BIVN) – The Hawaiʻi Farm Bureau is seeking Hawaiʻi island farmers and ranchers to participate in its “BRIDGES” program, bringing the bounty of local growers to the tables of those in need during COVID-19 pandemic.
From the Hawaiʻi Farm Bureau:
The Hawaii Farm Bureau is seeking Hawaii Island farmers and ranchers wishing to participate in a federally-funded COVID-19 program designed to assist both Hawaii Island community organizations and the local agricultural industry.
Since March of this year, the farm bureau has coordinated the “BRIDGES” program (Big Island Rural Agricultural Industries, Distribution and Growing Enterprise Strategies), which feeds families impacted financially by COVID-19 by purchasing and providing products from local farmers and ranchers.
The BRIDGES program allows the farm bureau to buy food directly from Hawaii Island farmers and donate them to Hawaii Island’s food bank – Hawaii Food Basket – and other community organizations for distribution to Hawaii Island residents. Through the Hawaii County Coronavirus Relief Fund, the Hawaii County Department of Research and Development recently distributed $325,000 in Federal CARES Act funding for the BRIDGES program, with the money available until December 7, 2020.
Those in the Hawaii Island agricultural community interested in applying for the BRIDGES program can contact Liana Sun at email@example.com.
“This program keeps our farmers operating during challenging times; contributing to our local economy while feeding those in need on our island,” said Randy Cabral, president of Hawaii Farm Bureau. “This is a great opportunity for island farmers and ranchers to give back to our local community.”
Since its inception in March, the BRIDGES program has already purchased and provided $200,000 worth of locally-grown food and flowers and donated to local community organizations for distribution.
Initiated by Hawaii County Councilmember Herbert “Tim” Richards, the BRIDGES program first started through private donations and public funds. To date, $203,500 has already been utilized toward the BRIDGES program received from Atherton Foundation ($100,000), O’Neill Foundation ($43,500), County of Hawai‘i Department of Research and Development ($25,000), Keck Observatory ($10,000); Mauna Kea Observatories ($10,000); Hawaii County Council Contingency Funding (Councilmember Richards) ($15,000).
“It’s all about the agricultural economy: Supporting agriculture by keeping its economy functioning, we keep agriculture healthy and set the stage for its help in our community’s economic recovery,” said Hawaii County Councilmember Herbert “Tim” Richards about the program.
“Mahalo to Councilmember Richards for helping to spearhead this community effort that benefits many,” Cabral said. “As a rancher himself, the councilmember truly understands the everyday challenges facing our ag industry and the community as a whole.”