Week 5

For my final project, I will be volunteering with the Newborn Enhanced Support Team (NEST). NEST offers free postpartum support for mothers and their families in everything from breastfeeding to finding community resources. This program takes an active part in decolonization by promoting breastfeeding as a social justice tool that can help address many facets of poverty, racism, geographic isolation, indigenous sovereignty and community food security. One of their main grants, Hawaii Island First Foods Initiative, aims to promote eating locally grown foods throughout pregnancy and infanthood, including breastmilk.

The First Foods Initiative is rooted in the understanding that ‘ai pono is a proper foundation to a healthy, sustainable lifestyle. Exclusive breastfeeding is not only a baby’s first food, but also its medicine and a connection to our ancestral ways. It aims to promote life-long health habits in seeking out local and healthy food sources for everyone in the family but especially for when a baby starts eating solids at six months old. Decolonizing our food sources is of the utmost importance on a remote island. If shipping were to ever be disrupted, we only have a few days of food supply and waste capacity. Breastfeeding is not only good for our food security, but for our disaster preparedness, economic self-sufficiency, and environmental stewardship.

With NEST, I will be working on two main projects. The first will be a “first foods baby board book”. I will help design and create a little book that highlights local first foods including coconut meat, ulu, and kalo. Our intention is to mail this book out to everyone in the program when the baby is around four months old to get families to start thinking about foods they will be feeding their baby at six months. My second project is to incorporate culturally-relevant feeding anecdotes in the text messaging platform, Mosio, which reaches all of the postpartum families in the program.  This text messaging system currently sends out breastfeeding information at designated points throughout the postpartum period from zero to six months. Our aim is to continue that support beyond the first half year to provide complementary breastfeeding and eating support for baby.

NEST website


9 thoughts on “Week 5

  1. I’m not going to lie and say that I’m SUPER JEALOUS of this one!!!!! 😉 I wanted to figure out how to incorporate that into this class but I wasn’t sure if it would count, but I go back to the arguments made about colonization and breastfeeding–way to go, Lauren! Being someone who is also a champion for breastfeeding I am looking forward to the amazing work that will undoubtedly come from this service learning project.

    Additionally, I sing the praises of the NEST Program because of all the help and support they provided to me as I was going through my struggles with nursing. The variety of ways they reach out to women and normalize the experience is definitely the message and mission we should be spreading.

    Again–I’m looking forward to this one 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love this idea! I was very literal in thinking about community service projects directed at decolonization, I love that this idea employs outside-the-box thinking and interpretation of colonization. I also love that this project completely reflects who you are and your belief system. I commend you for finding something that aligns with your ideals and fits the project so well. I’m really excited to see your reflections about your experiences.

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  3. This sounds really great Lauren!
    I’m personally touched because my best friend experienced post partum depression after the birth of her third child. As part of helping her through that experience, I’ve become very interested in ways to support our mothers and children because as a community I feel we all have a role to play. Both facets of the project you are working on (the book and the continued support via text messaging) sound like such simple yet obviously needed supports. I am fascinated to learn more as your project unfolds.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So far you’re the only person I’ve seen who’s ended up choosing the volunteering project. And you seem so excited about it. Congratulations Lauren on finding such a good match.
    I love that line “Decolonizing our food sources”. Where I live we try to supplement our food with homegrown Ulu and fruits. It’s wild to think how quickly our island populations could be put into starvation crisis when there’s so much incredibly fertile land that will grow almost anything. Good luck with the “first foods baby board book” and Mosio text messaging system. Sounds like you’ve got some wonderful work cut out for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well I had never heard of that program and find it very enlightening that it exists and supports healthy eating ethics. Interestingly, I raised my own grandchild on fresh products that included uala, kalo and ulu and it is not a difficult or costly endeavor so changing the Gerber mindset of our communities will bring better health to our babies and to the ohana as a whole, as well. The benefits of sustainable eating are multiple and I think this project will bring much information and insight to our class. Good luck and great idea.

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  6. Lauren! What an exciting project this is on so many levels. I was hoping to this type of volunteering project for my final but could not find an appropriate venue on Kauai. I fully support eating locally and purchase most of my produce, herbs and spices from our health food stores which are stocked by Kauai’s farms. While I have often thought of raiding the health food store when my time comes as a mother-to-be (which is far from now), I had never thought of that in terms of providing nourishing food to my baby and myself while also being able to support local farms in the process. That is SO COOL! Yes, this absolutely makes for an amazing final project but this kind of work far exceeds that and is just flat out incredible and so well needed. I am greatly looking forward to learning more about this from your final post! Thank you for all that you are doing in this movement.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lauren-Your passion for the subject is so obvious and your wisdom and commitment will no doubt be infectious to many. You are a blessed mother with a blessed child and anyone who comes in contact with you I’m sure will feel the same. Thanks for standing up for mothers and even more so for standing up for the development of children. My daughters first food during breast feeding was mashed kalo and I still have picture of her on the wall with it smeared all over her face. Beautiful photos as well. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Awesome project, Lauren! There is a similar project in Waimanalo that I was hoping to learn more about and perhaps put together some research, so learning more about NEST and what they are doing would be so helpful to me as well. Good luck and do let me know how I can be of support to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hey Lauren! I really like the concept and think the food sourcing is a key element in decolonization. I can’t think of a better place to start than the start of life. I think it also really great that you are utilizing resources that you know well and can now examine from further depth and a different perspective. I am looking forward to hearing more!

    Liked by 1 person

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