Farm to School Program Introduced by Rep. Cynthia Thielen

HAWAII REPORTER-  HONOLULU, HAWAII – January 22, 2012

A bill establishing a Farm to School Program within the Department of Agriculture was introduced today by Hawai‘i State Representative Cynthia Thielen (R, 50th District: Kailua, Kaneohe Bay).   This program would require public schools to purchase Hawai‘i -grown produce when it is available at approximately the same cost as foods imported from out of state.

“Not only does this program support our farming industry, but it offers healthy food choices to our young people.  The Farm to School Program is a win-win situation for us all,” said Representative Thielen, adding, that the partnership between Hawaii food growers and schools offers numerous nutritional, environmental and economic benefits to our state.

HB1718 (The Farm to School Bill) describes Hawai‘i-grown produce as “fruits and vegetables grown in the state which are unprocessed, minimally processed, flash frozen, or otherwise prepared and handled to maintain their freshness while providing convenience to the user”.

“Our school budgets are tight, and it is important to point out that this bill stipulates that the foods purchased locally must not cost more than 3 percent of comparable produce.  Additionally, local produce must meet US Department of Agriculture requirements,” explained Representative Thielen.

In addition to using Hawaii-grown produce in their menu selections, Hawaii schools would also be encouraged to have farmers markets on school grounds, plant school gardens and educate students on the nutritional, environmental, and economic benefits of preparing and consuming Hawaii-grown produce.

“Educating our younger generation on the benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables is important if we want to promote wellness and health that will last a lifetime,” said Rep. Thielen.

For more information regarding HB1718, contact the office of Representative Cynthia Thielen, (808) 586-6480.

Rep. George Fontaine – Not Your Standard Hawaii Politician

By Susan Halas January 23, 2012

As the 2012 Hawaii State Legislature opens for business, now is a good time to take a look at George Fontaine.

This Maui legislator is definitely a departure from the norm. In a body full of Democrats he’s one of only eight Republicans serving in the House. In a group dominated members with high seniority, he’s a freshman. In a political scenario often orchestrated by Oahu, he represents South Maui. And, in a roomful of former lawyers, he was a cop before he entered politics.

George Fontaine (51) is not your standard-issue Hawaii politician. He represents South Maui’s 11th State House District including Kihei, Wailea and Makena. To him Republican means “less government, more economic opportunity for business.”

As for style, his is non-confrontational: “It’s how you carry yourself and what your attitude is that counts.

“A long time ago my father gave me some very good advice. In two words my dad told me: ‘Be nice.’ That advice has carried me a long way. You need other people to get things done. My main objective is representing the people in my district. You have to find common ground. I’m not a partisan guy. Leave the party tag at the door.”

Before seeking public office, Fontaine was active in the Maui community for many years. He served as an officer with the Maui Police Department from 1980 to 2005, retiring as Wailuku Patrol Captain.

While a member of the MPD he also started and later sold Maui Gateway, an  early internet service provider. He considers himself tech savvy and is also the author of a number of computer books.

After retirement he became Hawaii Rotary District Governor from 2007 to 2008. This volunteer position involved extensive travel and kept him in contact with Hawaii’s 43 Rotary clubs with more than 2,200 members.

After that politics came easily. “My life has always been about public service, it was a natural.” In just a short time he’s gone from “enforcing the laws to making them.”

His own top priority is the economy. “Government doesn’t create jobs,” he said. “Business creates jobs. My sympathies lie with the private sector; making it possible to have a healthy business community.”

Fontaine first ran and lost in 2008. He ran again and won in 2010. He’s just finished the first year of a two year term and is already raising funds to run again this fall. He’s hoping to raise $50,000. “Well maybe,” he said, “$30,000 would be more realistic.”

Rep George Fontaine visiting students booth at STEM conferenceHe refers to himself as a “fiscal conservative” and a “committed family man.” His wife Paige is his campaign manager and an excellent photographer. They have two children Phillip 15 and Angelique 17. The family lives in Kihei where they belong to St. Theresa’s Catholic Church. Before his life became so busy he enjoyed diving and also liked to play golf.

His advice to Maui voters of all parties is: “Stay involved; stay active. Follow the bills that interest you. Let your lawmakers hear from you. We are all here to represent you.”

HOUSE REPUBLICAN RESPONSE TO GOVERNOR ABERCROMBIE’S STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS

“We heard many priorities today from Governor Abercrombie that we in the Republican caucus have shared and supported for years.  Fiscal prudence, tourism, infrastructure and high-tech industry are truly important factors in improving our economy and creating jobs in Hawaii.

The fiscal situation this year has improved from last year, but less bad is not a surplus. Today’s address highlighted short-term revenue raising solutions and some long range spending plans, but Abercrombie did not bring forth sustainable measures to put Hawaii on a better economic track. Without including the next set of projections from the Council on Revenues, Abercrombie’s plan still leads us into a deficit next year, and he made few comments to indicate that he would focus on economic growth and small businesses development.

Abercrombie identified some of our state’s major concerns like reducing our dependence on oil, improving education and encouraging healthy lifestyles, but we need to be sure our solutions are responsible and sustainable. Right now, Abercrombie’s plan puts our State in a continual deficit for the next 5 years; we need to be sure we are thinking more long-term.

Abercrombie’s call for unity and the absence of tax increases are a good beginning. However, we hope that as the session moves on the governor and the legislature can develop and promote solutions that will fix our problems today AND decrease the cost-of-living for our constituents in the long run.”

 

The House Republican Caucus is Minority Leader Gene Ward, Minority Floor Leader Kymberly Marcos Pine, Minority Policy Leader Barbara C. Marumoto, Assistant Minority Leader Cynthia Thielen, Assistant Floor Leader Corinne W.L. Ching and Minority Whips, Representatives George Fontaine, Aaron Ling Johanson, and Gil Riviere.