food sovereignty; food security; Native Hawaiian; Indigenous; community health; family; nutrition; sustainability; aquaponics; culture/ethnicity


Community Health and Preventive Medicine


Living in one of the most remote island chains in the world, Native Hawaiians developed sophisticated food cultivation systems that sustained a thriving and robust population for centuries. These systems were disrupted by colonization, which has contributed to the health disparities that Native Hawaiians face today. MALAMA, a culturally-grounded backyard aquaponics program, was developed to promote food sovereignty among Native Hawaiians. This study utilized participant interview and focus group data to identify how participating in the MALAMA program impacts the wellbeing. The findings demonstrate that MALAMA enhanced the participants’ pilina (relationship, connection) to traditional foods, land, cultural identity, family, and community, which contributed to the quick adoption of the program into Native Hawaiian communities. To address food insecurity, it is imperative to seek Indigenous-developed, community-based, and culturally-grounded programs and solutions like the MALAMA program.