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Farm bureau purchase/giveaway program extended

The Maui News

A Maui County Farm Bureau program that purchases produce for giveaway to food programs will continue to July 31.

The farm bureau’s Farm Product Purchase Program was extended by Maui County with an infusion of $300,000.

Commercial farmers who have produce available are welcome to join this program. Membership in the farm bureau is not a requirement. To participate, contact Heidi Watanabe, program produce coordinator, at (808) 357-8593.

When the COVID-19 lockdown closed most of Maui’s hotels and restaurants in late March, Maui farmers’ wholesale markets disappeared overnight, said Warren K. Watanabe, executive director of the farm bureau. The farm bureau set up the Farm Product Purchase Program to purchase produce from Maui farmers and donate the harvest to Feed My Sheep, Maui Food Bank and Salvation Army, programs feeding residents in need on Maui, Molokai and Lanai.

The program launched April 2 and initially was set to run through May 9. The program’s success and added financial contributions by the county and the nonprofit group Ulupono kept the program alive through June, the farm bureau said.

With the county extending funding through July 31, the food purchase and distribution program continues into its fourth month, the farm bureau said.

Through the program, the county purchases everything from strawberries to daikon, pineapple to kale from Maui commercial farms. To be eligible, a farm had to have sold an average of $2,500 per month in produce prior to March.

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