The 2017 Beneficiaries

Four fortunate organizations were selected as beneficiaries of the 6th Annual Chocolate Festival, each receiving a monetary donation to support their various efforts.

Presented by the Kona Cacao Association, the Big Island Chocolate Festival (BICF) is a fundraiser that will feature 800 guests experiencing 7 events over 2 days (April 29 & 29, 2017).  In addition to supporting the Palamanui Culinary Arts program, the 2017 beneficiaries include:

  • American Culinary Federation Kona Kohala Chefs Association ( The ACF Kona Kohala Chefs Association members are industry leaders committed to culinary enrichments through professional development and education in our community. There are more than 50 chapter members, plus a College Junior Chef Chapter and a High School Junior Chef Chapter. The group includes food service professionals, vendors and growers.  The ACF Kona Kohala Chefs Association is a part of the American Culinary Federation.
  • Kona Dance & Performing Arts ( The mission Kona Dance & Performing Arts is Striving to provide high quality instruction and education in dance and performing arts to the local youth and the Big Island community. Classes range from ballet to Hip-Hop, and feature adult dance classes as well.
  • Kona Pacific Public Charter Schools ( The Kona Pacific Public Charter Schools weaves three key strands into its educational programs: Waldorf Inspired Education, Hawaiian Culture, Sustainable Agriculture, curriculum offers a holistic, hands-on, project-based education inspired by Waldorf education, promoting student achievement in language arts, math, science, visual arts, foreign languages, musical training and movement.
  • Waimea Country School ( Waimea Country School sustains a developmentally appropriate teaching and learning environment in which the individual student is nurtured and supported to become an independent thinker, self-disciplined and self-reliant, yet always aware of the needs of others and the common good. Both playful and serious, the School’s program encourages each child’s creativity and resourcefulness, guided by skillful and dedicated teachers, enhanced by small class size.

Visit Big Island Chocolate Festival for more information and updates regarding the Fundraising Gala Event.

Past Beneficiaries


The Kona Cacao Association presented the Director of Kona Pacific Public Charter School, Shanna Mall and Jean Hull, ACF Kona Kohala Chefs Association for the culinary program at Hawai’i Community College – Pālamanui, with $6000 checks on Friday June 10th from proceeds raised at the Big Island Chocolate Festival held on May 15th. Kona Cacao Association Board members presenting the checks were Fern Gavelek, Nancy Sweatt, Delania Branham, Farsheed  Bonakdar, Laurie Mattos and Julie Ziemelis. (not pictured, Usha Kilpatrick)

“It was very gratifying to be able to present the checks to the leaders of the organizations we raise money for each year. Both Shanna and Jean accepted the checks knowing the impact those funds would have on the students both at Kona Pacific Public Charter School and at HCC-Palamanui,” Festival organizer Julie Ziemelis stated. “We could not do it alone and we thank all the chefs, sponsors, volunteers, and guests who helped us break our fundraising goal to provide funds to students in our community!”



Hard work pays off when great causes benefit! Way to go Kona Cacao Association/ Big Island Chocolate Festival team and congrats and best wishes to Jean Hull of ACF Kona Kohala Chefs Association and Shaheer Faltas of Kona Pacific - Pcs—keep doing all that you do for our students and community! We presented a $5000 check to each beneficiary in 2015. Mahalo to all the attendees of the Festival who supported the event AND the two beneficiaries!

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By joining together, KCA members can create opportunities that will help everyone involved in the cacao industry on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Join us as we journey towards creating an internationally recognized brand of cacao and chocolate products that are guaranteed sustainable, fair trade and high quality.