HONOLULU, HAWAII – Kaiser Permanente today presented a $20,000 grant to the Institute of Human Services to support vocational skills training in urban agriculture and an edible gardening initiative in conjunction with IHS’ Rooftop Garden project at its Women’s and Family Shelter.
“Kaiser Permanente is pleased to partner with the Institute for Human Services to initiate this pilot project to provide prevocational and vocational skills training in urban agriculture to those served by IHS,” said Kaiser Permanente’s Director of Community Benefits Joy Barua. “This innovative project will serve to empower vulnerable individuals through skill-building in urban agriculture, which will enhance their employability while raising awareness about healthy eating.”
In addition to providing training opportunities for residents’ career prospects or future residencies, the project is designed to add sustainability by growing fresh produce for use in the shelter’s kitchen. The project is anticipated to improve the nutritional value
of 600 daily meals, benefitting approximately 300 individuals (based on 2 meals/person), served at the homeless shelter. Initially, 16 shelter participants will benefit from the prevocational training.
The vocational training program is one of many Kaiser Permanente HEAL initiatives that promote Healthy Eating and Active Living. Other HEAL initiatives include support to Foodbanks, farmer’s markets and various health education outreach efforts.
Connie Mitchell, Executive Director of IHS expressed, “We’re excited about how community partnerships like this one with Kaiser Permanente helps keep us true to our mission of ending homelessness AND planting seeds of self-efficiency. The Garden Job Training program they funded will help some of our guests’ enhance their skills sets to land a job in an economy that’s definitely going greener.”
The program is in conjunction with IHS’ Rooftop Garden, the first rooftop garden in the United States to use aquaponics – the combination of re-circulation aquaculture and hydroponics. Hydroponics is growing plants in a solution of water and nutrients, without soil. In aquaponics, plants and fish are raised in one integrated system. The fish waste provides nutrients for growing plants, and the plants provide a natural filter for the water the fish live in.
The IHS Rooftop Garden is intended to:
- Increase food security by creating a sustainable food source;
- Reduce long term operational expenses through integration with solar systems;
- Improve nutritional value of meals by adding fresh vegetables and fiber to the diet;
- Offer agricultural technology and life skills training through a specialized curriculum;
- And provide opportunities to contribute to the IHS community and experiences that encourage the values of self-sufficiency, cooperation and responsibility.
- The garden will be approximately 540 square feet, with additional space for expansion. The design will be integrated with existing solar systems and will include two 300-gallon fish tanks, a small nursery for starter plants, and six grow beds that will produce 40 lbs of lettuce per week.
Kaiser Permanente Hawaii has provided total health to the people of Hawaii for more than 50 years. Today it has Hawaii’s largest medical group with over 430 physicians supported by 4,400 nurses and staff. Care for members is focused on their total health guided by our personal physicians, specialists, and team of caregivers. Our expert care and medical teams are supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery, and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education, and the support of community health. Visit kp.org for additional information.
Submitted by Laura M.Lott from Kaiser