To address food insecurity among the keiki of Maui and Lanai, a pilot food distribution program delivered 4,200 cartons of groceries this summer, which was enough for 56,400 meals.
With the help of local community organizations, the Kaukau 4 Keiki program served 600 balanced meal kits to children each week from June 16 until last week, when the program ended.
One in five children in Maui County is food insecure, according to a Feeding America and Maui Food Bank study.
“They really depend on school meals to meet their food and food needs and to have a program like Kaukau 4 Keiki and filling that gap is really essential for these children, especially for so many families who are struggling during the pandemic,” Maui County KK4K Coordinator Kaimana Brummel said. âWe also learned from the pandemic food distributions that even though people donated boxes of food during pickup, it was still a barrier for many families, whether it was time or not. no vehicles, so delivering food directly to families has helped remove many of these barriers.
With a chapter on Oahu, the island of Hawaii, Kauai and a pilot project on Maui-Lanai, the Kaukau 4 Keiki program attempts to fill the youth’s lack of access to food by providing students with a weekly box of food. , which was delivered directly to students’ homes during the school holidays, Brummel said.
Each box contains milk, bread, canned protein, and fresh Maui produce and is delivered by a team of community members. Going forward, Brummel said they strive to make 100% locally sourced groceries.
KK4K serves students 18 and under and up to 22 for people with disabilities. The program serves keiki who live in zip codes starting with “967.”
Funding for the food was provided by the United States Department of Agriculture in partnership with First Lady of Hawaii Dawn Amano-Ige and the City and County of Honolulu.
Brummel said on Sunday that “We couldn’t have done it without Maui United Way”, who was the financial agent for the program.
The Nuestro Futuro Foundation also donated $ 80,000 to Maui United Way for the Kaukau 4 Keiki Summer Meal Program, which was used to purchase food and distribution efforts to bring the program to Maui and Lanai.
KK4K was also supported by Mahi Pono, who worked with local farmers to provide fresh produce, Hawaii Farmers Union United Hana Chapter, Hawaii Food Service Alliance, as well as Sensei Farms, who helped distribute meals to Lanai households.
KK4K distributed 46,200 pounds of local produce from 18 farms, created 20 paid jobs and hired 20 volunteers, Brummel said.
While the majority of breakfasts and lunches were shipped to families across Valley Island, approximately 32 boxes were assembled and distributed in Hana, and 20 boxes were shipped and distributed throughout Lanai Town. every week.
Five Lanai residents via Sensei Farms took turns picking up the boxes from the ferry sent by KK4K.
Once the organization heard that KK4K wanted to send meals to Lanai, but needed drivers to get the job done, said Sensei Ag Hawaii HR manager Scott Pinsani. “We all had the same reaction, is that we wanted to help.”
Pinsani, who assisted with deliveries, added that “it was really gratifying to know” that they were able to coordinate food services for families in need on a remote island.
âI think the Lanai community recognizes that sometimes things are difficult on Lanai or that certain things are logistically more complicated than maybe some of the other neighboring islands and so it is not uncommon for people to rally for their community and help when they can. “ he said.
Families whose youth were eligible and received groceries as part of the program in the past seven weeks “seemed to really like it.”
Going forward, Brummel said they hope to continue the food distribution program in Maui and Lanai during student fall, spring, winter and summer vacation, depending on funding.
“We would be really happy to continue participating in any way we can”, Pinsani said, adding that Sensei Farms was brainstorming ideas for providing fresh, locally grown produce, as well as assembling and distributing boxes of food on Lanai.
“Anything we can do to help our keiki”, he said.
* Dakota Grossman can be contacted at [email protected]