KS partnership provides produce boxes to workers impacted by pandemic

Jul. 20, 2020

Contributed by Mae Nishimura

Kamehameha Schools recently collaborated with the Hawaiʻi Ag & Culinary Alliance and Ward Village to pass out 250 Kokua Boxes filled with mainly local produce to Our Kakaʻako and Ward Village restaurant and retail workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the Kokua Box beneficiaries had either been laid off or furloughed.

All Our Kakaʻako and Ward Village tenants and their employees were invited to pick up a free 35-pound Kokua Box as part of the pilot program. The community partners wanted to share their aloha and express their mahalo to the people who make Kakaʻako a vibrant and progressive neighborhood.

“Kamehameha Schools is committed to the well-being of our tenants and their ʻohana, and we are fortunate to collaborate with these two organizations to provide these produce boxes to the tenants of Our Kakaʻako,” said Walter Thoemmes KSK’84, KS’ Commercial Real Estate Division managing director. “It is a priority for us to support our tenants and community partners and uplift mutually beneficial relationships that help Hawaiʻi thrive, succeed and recover from this crisis.”

With a rate of more than 22% unemployment in the state, many families are struggling. This Kokua Box program has offered families faced with unemployment and lack of resources with an alternative means to access food.

“This has become a wonderful partnership to provide some relief to Kakaʻako restaurant and retail workers who’ve been impacted by COVID-19, while continuing to support local agriculture,” said Todd Apo KSK’85, senior vice president of Community Development at The Howard Hughes Corporation. “Until our community is back to 100%, our Ward Village team will continue to look for ways to help.”

The Kokua Boxes were provided by the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box program and Ham Produce & Seafood, a local food distributor selected in Hawaiʻi to coordinate produce from local farmers to help families in need.

“This box is going to help feed two families – I’m going to share with another mom,” said Melina Hicks of Paiko in SALT At Our Kaka‘ako. “This is a great way for the community to come together. We can’t thank you enough.”

The Kokua Box program will be evaulated by the partners to determine whether it will become a regular program based on its success in distributing food to people in need, as well as whether a need continues to exist among the tenant employees.

To read more about other KS’ commercial real estate initiatives, please visit their website here.