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Sharing Best Practice Policies in Public Health and Food Resiliency

Updated: Sep 13, 2021

GOVERNANCE: Hawaii’s Food Security Plan—Post Pandemic Reflections, Zoning Ordinances vs Food Production: Role of City Planning in Food Resiliency, Politics of Food—Role of Dual Citizens in Influencing Legislation, The Maginhawa Phenomenon--Community Pantries and Other Grassroots Movements

Hawaii’s Food Security Plan—Post Pandemic Reflections

Susan Pineda Mercado is the Director of Food Systems and Resilience of the Hawaii Public Health Institute. Prior to moving to Hawaii, she was the strategic adviser for COVID19, International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Asia Pacific Region and Special Envoy of the President on Global Health Initiatives in the Philippines. She worked with WHO for 15 years and was WHO Director for NCD and Health through the Life Course in the Western Pacific. Previously, the Undersecretary for Health in the Philippines, she was awarded the Distinguished Alumni in Global Health by the University of the Philippines in 2017. She has an A.B. Philosophy (magna cum laude), Doctor of Medicine and Master of Public Health from the University of the Philippines.

Zoning Ordinances vs Food Production: Role of City Planning in Food Resiliency

Mike Dahilig is the Managing Director, County of Kaua‘i, and is responsible for operational oversight of 14 administrative departments with rough operating budget of $250M. He is also responsible for managing the mayor’s policy agenda relating to internal operations, legislation, and intergovernmental affairs. Prior to this position, he was Director of Planning and provided oversight for the county’s long-range planning, land use, zoning and permitting. He was a member of the University of Hawaii’s Board of Regents from 2005 to 2013 and served as law clerk for Judge Randal Valenciano of the Fifth Circuit Court in 2008-2009 before working as a deputy county attorney. He received his law degree from UH Manoa’s Richardson School of Law and an undergraduate degree in geology and geophysics at UH Manoa.

Politics of Food—Linking Farmers to International Markets

Clara Reyes-Lapus is President of Mama Sita Foundation and Marigold Manufacturing Corporation—makers of the Mama Sita food brand. She is also president of the Philippine Food Processors and Exporters Association. The brand Mama Sita was born in 1980 when Teresita Reyes asked her daughter and son-in-law, an accomplished biologist, to create instant sauces for Filipinos abroad to easily prepare and enjoy Filipino cuisine. Mama Sita is found in 46 countries and growing, and the company continues to develop new products. One of the secrets to her success is how she continues to support her farmer-suppliers, helping them mechanize to make them competitive, and paying them the right price for their produce. She has a MA Sociology & Economics from the Asian Social Institute and a B.S. Architecture (1964) from UP Diliman.

Give What You Can, Get What You Need—The Role of Community Pantries

Ana Patricia Non organized a bamboo makeshift food bank on Maguinhawa Street in Quezon City to bring to life the time-tested Filipino “bayanihan spirit” of helping people in need. She stocked it with 800 pesos (US$16.50) worth of groceries. Word of mouth spread quickly, which caused donations such as rice, vegetables, eggs, canned goods, and other essential items to arrive. Eventually, the organizers were given the free use of a warehouse to be used as the distribution hub for the donated products. Patricia who works as a furniture designer graduated from UP Diliman with a major in Visual Communications and is a member of the UP Artists’ Circle Fraternity and Sorority. Last July, she also organized a “bigas (rice) drive” with her fraternity and sorority. “Give what you can, get what you need” is what is posted on her bamboo cart, and this has encouraged others to do the same and the ripple effect has reached other parts of the Philippines.


Carolyn Weygan-Hildebrand is completing a second graduate degree in the interdisciplinary field of urban and regional planning. She went back to school because of climate change, and welcomes the academic dive into indigenous planning, urban food systems, and disaster management. This year, she co-founded the Ewa Villages Historical Society with two other women and has accepted the challenge of fostering community vibrancy in a space that is rich in plantation history and heritage. She is a proud graduate of the University of Hawaii (Economics) and the University of the Philippines Baguio (Social Sciences). She was born and raised in Baguio City and came to Hawaii as an East West Center degree grantee.

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