Families savored ʻono dishes including lūʻau stew, poi, and ʻulu bread pudding after a recent drive-through meal distribution at Kamehameha Schools Maui. The school’s ʻohana meal program, E Pū Paʻakai Kākou, started in September to provide food while haumāna took part in distance learning.
“As a single mom, I work two jobs and I’ve got two hungry boys at home,” said parent Linda Ayau. “When I heard about what the school was doing for us, I jumped on it and was really excited because I know that it’s going to be a hot meal, it’s going to be delivered with a lot of love, and it’s just such a blessing to us.”
KSM parents sign up for the weekly service. The school’s culinary team has served up more than 1,800 ʻohana meals so far. Each one contains enough food to feed a family of four.
“I feel like it’s a great opportunity for myself, as a Hawaiian, and also to be involved in supporting local produce, supporting our local farmers,” said KSM Food Services Manager Bonny Davis.
The school purchases most of the ingredients from Maui farmers, who grow some of the best produce in the islands. Many of them are dealing with a devastating drop in sales because of the pandemic’s impact on restaurants and hotels.
“It was a big financial hit and it’s not only me, it’s a lot of the farmers,” said Paul Lopes, owner of Lopes Farm LLC, which supplies the school with beef and pork. “Everybody got hit with it pretty bad.”
Even before COVID-19 struck, KSM had been working with farmers to buy more locally grown products for regular food service programs as part of the school’s sustainability plan.
“It has been a great partnership with a multitude of farmers,” explained Hōkūao Pellegrino, KSM’s Sustainability and ʻAina-Based Learning designer and facilitator. “We can incorporate and showcase the farmers that are providing for our families during this time. It has really been a full, complete farm-to-school model.”
Earlier this month, Pellegrino and other staff pitched in to clean and mill more than 300 pounds of kalo on campus, producing a bag of poi for each family that signed up for a meal that week.
“It helps everyone all around so I’m really grateful, thankful for everybody involved,” said parent Gunter Tau-a.
View coverage of the KSM program on Maui Now:
Kamehameha Schools Maui Supports Families and Farmers Through ‘Ohana Meal Program