Due to the government mandated statewide COVID-19 shutdown, most of us are staying home, working from home, and minimizing our trips to the grocery store. We’re seeing layoffs and financial instability among many of our families here in Hawaii. But we’re also seeing some really wonderful examples of the Spirit of Aloha and ohana during this time of uncertainty, and these gestures give us hope and encouragement.
Since March 30 we have been serving free grab-and-go lunches to keiki and youth, thanks to a partnership with Kapi`olani Community College, Aloha Harvest, Hawaii Appleseed, and Hawaii Child Nutrition Programs. We know many children in our neighborhood qualify for free or reduced lunches and rely on that daily meal. Palama’s lunch is a valuable replacement for school meals, helping to lower the weekly family grocery bill and simply making one less task for parents during a long day of juggling work, academic assignments, and housework. Families are able to drive into our parking lot and stay in their car while our staff brings out the boxed lunches to their trunk, to minimize contact.
Local businesses have stepped up to help, too. Meadow Gold Hawaii donated cartons of yogurt and juice to KCC, which were included with the lunch distributions this week and given out to families. And HMSA has made a monetary donation to help offset the costs incurred by the program.
Beginning on April 13, Palama will switch to serving grab-and-go keiki suppers from 3:30 to 4:30 to round out a full day of meals, while Likelike Elementary will begin to serve breakfast and lunch.
Our emergency food pantry is also open. In the last week and a half we have served over 1,300 people through our food pantry distributions. This week we have begun deliveries of pantry items to kupuna as well, to better serve those who do not have the transportation to come to campus. Both individual donors and local businesses have made incredible contributions to support our pantry, giving both monetary gifts and donations of food. Fresh Island Delights LLC has donated almost 800 fresh fruit bowls and Ham Produce and Seafood has made multiple donations of potatoes, corn, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, lettuce, snap peas, and mushrooms. Both contributions ensure families receive not only canned goods, but fresh produce too.
The Henry and Colene Wong Foundation has made a monetary donation to the Hawaii Foodbank to be used by Palama as credit for purchases, which will go a long way in keeping the pantry stocked through this crisis. Every1ne Hawaii has donated 700 surgical masks and 50 KN95 masks to Palama to help keep everyone safe. The surgical masks will be distributed in the kupuna deliveries and the KN95 masks will be worn by our staff while they interact with the community.
The efforts of our staff and the generous spirit of our donors has made a big impression on our clients. One kupuna called us yesterday to thank Palama for the delivery of food. She wanted to express her aloha and gratitude, saying the box really made a difference to her family, who has no car to get to the store. Another mother told us before she received her food pantry distribution, she only had one egg at home and cooked it and cut it in half to share with her daughter.
We are heartened by our community sharing their resources with those in need, especially in this difficult and stressful period. We want to say mahalo nui loa to each of our donors and partners for supporting us and enabling us to further our mission.
Mahalo to Supporters of Our Essential Services (as of April 27, 2020):
Bruce Alameida, in memory of Emilia Alameida
Sharon Nagasako, in memory of Roy and Gladys Yoshimura
Sherry Mae Ravago
Terry Viergutz, in memory of Sabina Imbo Plaza McWilliams
Alexander & Baldwin
Create with Clay Hawaii, Inc.
D. Otani Produce
Fresh Tropical Delights LLC
Ham Produce and Seafood
Cooke Foundation, Ltd.
German Benevolent Society
Henry and Colene Wong Foundation