Three students show ‘Whatchu Eatin’ in art contest

Three Kaua‘i students were announced winners of the “Whatchu Eatin’” photovoice contest that was a statewide youth-led initiative designed to collect information about food experiences of Hawai‘i’s youth and presented by the Hawai‘i Youth Food Council.

“We wanted to hear from kids about what they were eating while schools were closed,” said Daniela Spoto Kittinger, director of Anti Hunger Initiative at Hawai‘i Appleseed during the announcement made Thursday, July 2. “So many kids rely on school meals throughout the school year, and we were curious about how school closures would affect that. More than a hundred photo entries were received from across the state from which a winner and two Honorable Mentions from each county would emerge.

In order to compete, students had to submit a photo relating to their food experience and write a description of the photo’s significance. Judging was based on the creativity of the photo and its relevance to the theme.

Photo entries displayed a wide range of food experiences among Hawai‘i’s youth, including growing food in gardens, learning to cook for the first time, and exploring cultural heritage through food.

“Ratatouille” by Kai S., a Kaua‘i island student, topped the winner’s list.

“It is a tasty, healthy dish that I cooked myself,” Kai said in his description. “The challenge that gave me the idea to make it, was to make two meals within a $40 budget. I had also recently re-watched the movie ‘Ratatouille’ and thought that this would be a good, cheap meal to make — and it was!”

Winning entries can be viewed on an online gallery starting June 30 at

“My love of cooking — Homemade Coconut Chicken Curry with Jasmine brown rice and garlic naan,” said Isabella B., one of the Kaua‘i Honorable Mention winners. “I love to make food. I love to bake and cook all day, then serve the homemade dishes that I have prepared for my family. When I am in the kitchen cooking, all worry leaves me. Recently, I have started to make healthier dishes because with my family, it is hard to please all of my family members at the same time. The dish I made here is something all my family members love and is made from fresh ingredients from our own garden and coconut trees. I spent hours cooking this dish with my dad, trying to make it the best possible one I can. I really do hope I pictured my love of cooking and my experience with the food I make. Thank you.”

Fathers are important food preparation helpers as demonstrated by Reed B.’s “Homemade chocolate mousse,” the second Honorable Mention for Kaua‘i island.

“I have wanted to make homemade chocolate mousse, but because of the COVID-19, I have been unable to get chocolate mousse,” Reed B. said in his description. “So, me and my dad have decided to make chocolate mousse.”