Poepoe, Mahina M.

Poepoe, Mahina M.

Office Seeking: State Representative, District 13 (Haiku, Hāna, Kaupo, Kipahulu, Nahiku, Paia, Kahoʻolawe, Lānaʻi, Molokai, Molokini)

Party: Democrat
Website: votemahina.com

Food security is defined by the USDA as "access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life." How will your platform address food insecurity in Maui County?

Food insecurity is easily linked to our most pressing social issues such as low-wages, high cost of living, housing insecurity, and homelessness. Increasing opportunities for residents to secure affordable housing, raising the minimum wage to a living wage, and promoting a holistic care approach to homelessness must be prioritized at the legislature.

Some of the specific actions that I support include:

  • Universal free meals in public schools.

  • Increased funding for outreach and education programs to residents on the different assistance services and programs available.

  • Transportation to food access points and/or assistance with food delivery.

  • Developing and implementing a statewide food security plan tailored to the unique needs of each island and its communities.

  • Strengthening communication and coordination efforts between the government, service providers, community organizations, and other stakeholders to improve efficiency, effectiveness, and the ability to mobilize quickly.

Please list any initiatives you have supported in Maui County to increase food access and food production that you are proud of:

Lo’i Kalo

I actively kōkua at our ‘ohana lo’i where we grow kalo that is harvested and shared with family and community.

Kūpeke Fishpond

I founded and am the Board President of the non-profit Kūpeke Ahupua’a, which manages Kūpeke Loko i’a (fishpond). Through active management and maintenance we are working to increase fish reproduction and growth and to revitalize traditional aquaculture and food systems.

County of Maui Department of Agriculture

I voted in support the ballot initiative to establish a County Department of Agriculture. If elected, I will work on the State end to provide support for this new County department.

‘Āina Momona Keawanui Cultural Learning Site

As a Project Coordinator for ‘Āina Momona, I secured grants for farm expansion at Keawanui. These grants supported planting a grove of ‘ulu trees, ‘ulu plant distribution to the community, planting dry land taro fields and other crops, and provided hands-on opportunities for school students to visit and learn about indigenous food systems. Harvested produce is used to supplement meals at the onsite school and distributed to the community.

Community Farm Fresh Food Pantry

As a Board Member of the Molokai Community Health Center, I supported creating an onsite Community Farm Fresh Food Pantry which provides no-cost access to food for community members in-need. This food pantry is open 5 days a week and is the only food bank on Molokai that stocks chilled and frozen items. See press release: https://themolokaidispatch.com/farm-fresh-food-pantry-opens/

Sustainable Molokai

I am an enthusiastic consumer and supporter of the Sustainable Molokai Food Hub, which promotes local food systems by serving as a market and intermediary between local growers/producers and local consumers.

Hawaiʻi imports roughly 85% of our food supply. How will your platform address increasing local food production?

To reduce our State’s dependence on food imports, agricultural lands must be protected, resources to small farmers must be provided, more funding must be allocated to expand non-industrial agriculture, and indigenous agriculture and aquaculture must be supported.

Some of the specific actions that I would support include:

  • Investing meaningfully and equitably in small farms and local producers.

  • Investing in water and natural resource conservation.

  • Ensuring the fresh water needs of traditional and customary practices are met.

  • Strengthening biosecurity and invasive species prevention and control programs.

  • Encouraging institutions (schools, hospitals, restaurants, grocery stores ,etc) to prioritize utilizing locally sourced produce and food products.

  • Decentralizing and re-localizing our food systems.

  • Planning for climate change impacts to local agriculture and food production.

  • Supporting Food-Hubs and community processing facilities.

  • Diversifying distribution systems for locally produced food and products.

  • Providing food safety courses and school gardening programs.

Please indicate your position on the following policies:

  1. Creating County funding mechanisms to support DA BUX Double Up Food Bucks. SUPPORT

  2. Increasing local food procurement for Maui County schools. SUPPORT

  3. Increasing Farm to School initiatives including school gardens. SUPPORT

  4. Pursuing County Farm to Food Bank Funding. SUPPORT

  5. Developing regional organic waste and composting services. SUPPORT

  6. Restructuring the Department of Water Supply and Department of Wastewater to encourage strategies for conservation, efficient water use, storage, and growing water resources. SUPPORT

  7. Increasing the budget for the Maui County Department of Agriculture. SUPPORT

  8. Offering subsidies to local farms that have shown the ability to sustain production. SUPPORT

  9. Supporting policies that allow for increased affordable housing for farmworkers. SUPPORT

  10. Improving policies around hunting and utilizing invasive protein sources. SUPPORT

  11. Funding updated shared processing facilities, including slaughterhouses and food hubs. SUPPORT

  12. Implementing new inspection policies to reduce the spread of invasive species. SUPPORT

  13. Establishing local control of water resources through a Maui County Community Water Authority, with the ability to establish regional community boards. SUPPORT

Please elaborate on any of your above positions here.

13: I support establishing the Maui County Community Water Authorities and regional boards for the reasons stated in CC 22-167. I support placing this proposed charter amendment on the ballot.

Are there other issues, County-wide or within your own residency area, about food security that concern you, and how do you plan to address these issues if elected?

Feral ungulate overpopulation and drought are two pressing issues in my own residency area and throughout the County. For feral ungulates, I would work urgently with all stakeholders to develop and implement management strategies to bring the population under control.

To begin to mitigate the impacts and severity of drought, I would advocate for funding for water conservation and watershed restoration activities and to provide resources and education to farmers and food producers on best practices for drought resilience, such as mulching and selecting drought tolerant crops.

Bovine tuberculosis is an issue that is specific to only Molokai. I would work with agencies and stakeholders to develop and implement a comprehensive testing and management plan with both short and long term benchmarks, in accordance with State agencies and departments.