The concept of “food security” was defined in 1996 at the World Food Summit in Rome as, “when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life” (FAO). The U.S government defines food security as, “the ready availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods and the ability to acquire them in socially acceptable ways”(Hawai’I Department of Health). Food security is important when considering how to source food. Food insecurity stems from an inability to acquire food due to lack of funds or a lack of source.Thus, when deciding the sources of food, both economic and health effects must be taken into consideration.
The Hawai'i Department of Health conducted a Hunger and Food Insecurity in Hawaii estimate in 1999-2000. The study found that 221,834 or 23% persons in Hawaii during 199-2000 were food insecure (Hawai’I Department of Health). Below is a map displaying the percept persons in food insecure households across the Hawaiian islands.
Waimānalo located in Oahu has the highest percent of people in food insecure households at 36.2%, however, the baseline estimate conducted it's estimate using under 50 households in Waimānalo and thus this is not a reliable figure. The Wai`anae Coast had a staggering 33.2% in 1999-2000. Puna, Ka`ū, and Hamākua were all within the top 16 regions with large percentages of food insecure houses with the percentages of 32.8%, 28.8%, and 24.1% respectively (Hawai’I Department of Health). The baseline study did not factor in homeless people into the statistics. This makes these numbers possibly smaller than the actual percentage of food insecure people in each region. According to the baseline study, living in food insecure households have other health implications. Adults who reported to be mentally or physically disable were more likely to live in food insecure houses. Obesity has been linked with living in insecure households. The baseline study showed that adults residing in food insecure households were 1.57 times more likely than adults in food secure households to report that they were obese. Food insecurity was also linked to other chronic health indicators such as diabetes, asthma, and arthritis at 1.41, 1.32, and 1.12 times more likely to have in food insecure households respectively (Hawaii Department of Health).
In spite of Hawaii's diverse environment and agricultural advantage, the state imports 92% of it’s produce, livestock and dairy products (Shapiro). The Agriculture Department of Hawaii released three reports on “Increased Food Security and Food Self-Sufficiency Strategy” to find solutions to food insecurity and food imports. Jesse Souki, the director of the Office of Planning wrote, “This self-sufficiency strategy is a living document which provides a first step for continued dialog and the initiation of actions to increase food self-sufficiency and food security in Hawai`i,” (Isotov, Sonia). The strategies solution include: Increasing the production of locally grown foods, increasing the demand for and access to locally grown foods, and providing policy and organizational support to meet food self-sufficiency needs (Department Agriculture State of Hawaii).