Tina Tamai

Tina Tamai
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii Cohort Start Year: 2017 Project Topics: Food Systems and Nutrition, Obesity Populations Served: At-Risk/Vulnerable Populations, Children and Families, Low-Income Communities, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders (NHPI), Rural Communities
Coordinator, Hawaii Good Food Task Force
The Kohala Center, Inc.

In a country of abundance and wealth, it bothered me that a basic human necessity as simple as good food is not available to everyone. It became an imperative to change that paradigm and create a culture that views good food as a priority and the norm for every person in my state. Communities have firsthand understanding of the barriers to food access and healthy eating among our underserved members. To support leaders in building food systems that facilitate healthy eating among these community members, I founded and led a task force of partners to provide backbone support through relationship building, networking, and collaboration. By linking and interconnecting key leaders and communities throughout Hawaii, we aim to create a statewide movement and social norm that insists on good food and health for everyone in Hawaii.

STRATEGIC INITIATIVE: Hawaii Good Food Alliance: A Network of Networks for Healthy Food & Sustainable Food Systems
Addressing equitable access to good food for all requires addressing complex, interconnected, multisectoral issues and problems inherent in food and food systems. Solutions mandate new and creative approaches that are just as complex. Community engagement plays a critical role. The Hawaii Good Food Alliance established a network of networks framework to address the complex array of agricultural, health, economic, and social influences. Building such a framework required an inordinate relationship-building and community network-organizing effort over a 10-year period of time. With the framework established, further support to sustain the framework is imperative to enable the actual work of social change. Current funding and resource paradigms need to be revised to encourage and support continuous community network building and sustainability to ensure that actions towards change occur. Failure to do so is tantamount to systemic disabling and oppression of actions to better our society.

I am a former Department of Health program manager who developed relationships and created a network of community leaders to focus on increasing food access and healthy eating in low-income communities in my state. Now that I am retired, I have the rare opportunity to continue my commitment to community and to explore more creative and innovative approaches to drive this network and movement in an even more meaningful and powerful manner.

Click here to watch Tina’s Legacy Project video.