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Campaign supports University of Hawaii students and COVID-19 research

By Staff | Apr 2, 2020

The University of Hawaii Urgent Student Relief fund supports students statewide.

HONOLULU – The University of Hawaii Foundation and University of Hawaii have partnered to establish two new funds in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic to help those on UH campuses.

“As we adjust to a new reality amid concerns about the novel Coronavirus, friends and alumni have been asking us how they can help,” said University of Hawaii President David Lassner.

“Many of our funders and donors have reached out expressing concern for the welfare of our students. They also want to hear what UH is doing on the research front to participate in the fight against COVID-19.”

Urgent Student Relief Fund: In times of emergencies like this, some students at UH’s ten campuses find themselves in urgent financial distress. The usual pressures of finishing the semester are exacerbated by the pandemic’s pervasive upheaval of routines and constant concern for family and friends.

Financially, many UH students who are already living on a shoestring are even closer to the edge. Students relying on jobs for tuition are being laid off. Others need childcare as schools temporarily close, access to computers as classes move online, transportation when living arrangements shift and food when their meals off campus may be in doubt.

“The type of assistance our students need is evolving, but UH is ready to respond,” said Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Hae Okimoto. “Additional resources will support our students to stay on track with their academic journeys so they can help us build the strong economy of tomorrow.”

COVID-19 and Infections and Emerging Diseases Research Fund: UH researchers are working fervently to detect, prevent and cure COVID-19, and other infectious and emerging diseases in the islands and abroad.

Among other efforts, scientists at the John A. Burns School of Medicine are expanding ongoing development of heat-stable vaccines for viruses, to include Coronaviruses causing COVID-19. Success means rapid, efficient manufacturing of vaccines with broad application for the general population, including children and seniors.

UH scientists are also working on the development of processes for rapid screening and surveillance of COVID-19 in the islands and abroad.

Tim Dolan, UH vice president of advancement and UH Foundation CEO, said, “Our donors and community want to be part of the global solution. As the nonprofit that raises funds to support UH students and research, we are committed to supporting our community in every way we can. We are all in this together.”

More information is available at the UH Foundation website.

In related news, a UH program is connecting public, local farmers during this pandemic.

Since farmers’ markets have been shut down for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak, local farmers are concerned about how they will be able to sell their produce, and locavores are wondering where they are going to buy their local produce and value-added products.

UH’s successful farmer training program, GoFarm Hawaii, has been building a list of some resources for farmers as well as Find Your Farmer, a list of farmers who are still offering access to food in non-traditional ways, such as through pick-up and drop-off.

They have the information promoted on their Facebook and Instagram pages, so that farmers can add their information.

GoFarm Hawaii has been addressing the issue of food security long before the unprecedented COVID-19 health crisis.

GoFarm Hawaii is a collaborative effort involving UH Manoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, Windward Community College and UH’s Agribusiness Incubator Program.

They are looking for farmers who have food to sell as well as building a resource for people to access food. GoFarm Hawaii is also requesting any recommendations of services that can aid farmers during the interim, so they can be added to the list.

GoFarm Hawaii has five program sites across four islands, including Maui, making it one of the largest beginning farmer training programs in the nation.

Started in 2012, the program has successfully trained aspiring farmers throughout the state.