3 years and 35,000 meals later, this Honokaa charity is more needed than ever

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – In the Hawaii Island town of Honokaa, a group of tireless volunteers prepares a new batch of meals weekly for those in need.

“In a rural community, there’s always some level of food insecurity,” said Anne Kroeger, a longtime Honokaa food program volunteer.

“Initially, that’s what we were meeting. We wanted to really create a program to serve all the people in the community. We wanted to create a meal that served anyone, so we wouldn’t stigmatize those who needed it most.”

Kroeger is among the team that’s provided free meals to the community every Friday at the Honokaa Hongwanji Buddhist Temple.

The efforts initially started in 2019 to assist kupuna and keiki, but that need exploded when the coronavirus pandemic arrived.

Over the last three years, the program has distributed an estimated 35,000 meals.

All those in need have to do is show up, no questions asked.

“Food is one of the biggest stresses in a family,” said Mahealani Maikui, Hamakua Youth Center program director. “It stresses families. Finances stresses families and some of them don’t make enough to get subsidies, so this program doesn’t discriminate ― you need food, come get food.”

Even with case counts and restrictions dropping, program organizers say they continue to see many residents impacted by the pandemic’s economic effects.

“It’s honestly a huge help,” said Dartagnan, a Honokaa resident who benefits from the food initiative.

“We’ve got someone staying with us for awhile and truth be told, gas and expenses for utilities and everything. With inflation, the economy is getting pretty bad too. My job as well as the jobs of others, it’s getting to be kind of debilitating at times.”

To help keep stomachs full, the team at Honokaa also provides weekly grocery bags and with or without COVID, they’ll be there to help.

“A lot of people want to know what’s coming up,” Kroeger said. “Sometimes I know, sometimes I don’t, but all the meals are popular for different reasons.”

To get a plate or groceries, reach out to the Honokaa Hongwanji Buddhist temple.

Copyright 2022 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.






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