Kapa’a Interfaith feast feeds 500 thankful

KAPA‘A — Since they have been holding the free luncheon each Thanksgiving for several years now, the Kapa’a Interfaith Association had a hunch that, as in previous years, lots of people would come and have a great time.

When they found out that the spacious All Saints Gym was available — and that JD Painting would put a fresh coat on the walls of the interior at no charge just in time for the event — it looked as though things were really shaping up nicely.

When they received a generous grant from the Sloggett fund, they knew they’d have enough money to buy all the food they would need.

But when they learned the food would be prepared by Mark Oyama, his executive chef Kevin Nakata and the rest of the crew from Contemporary Flavors Catering, they knew this year’s celebration was destined to be anything but a turkey.

Rev. Ben Nelson was quick to thank all the members of his extended church ‘ohana, mentioning in particular Mary Margaret Smith who had done much to prepare for the day, as well as the other churches of Interfaith.

“All Faith hosted it, but it’s an Interfaith deal,” he said.

The affable and powerfully built reverend said that, though he’s only been on the Garden Island for six months, he’s already impressed by how the community and its churches can come together to create an event like this.

At 10 a.m. when they opened the gymnasium doors, more than 100 residents were already waiting to come in. By the end of the day, some estimated that nearly 500 people had been served.

That’s including the turkey dinners delivered to people in their homes, mostly the elderly and others with mobility problems who couldn’t make it out to the event.

Smith said notices were sent along with Meals on Wheels food deliveries offering a Thanksgiving plate with all the fixins, and 154 people from Anahola to Lihu’e took them up on the offer. The dinners were delivered along with flowers and laminated place mats, created by children volunteers.

As ono as the food was, foremost on many minds were thoughts of faith and family.

Beverly Primary, who lost her father very close to Thanksgiving 13 years ago, and then her mother five years ago, wanted to remind children to “be thankful to your parents.”

Yvonne Pascua, who attends St. Catherine’s in Kapa‘a, said simply, “God is good. Without God, we cannot do this.”

Mark Oyama was too busy in the kitchen to be thinking about much of anything, except how lucky he was to have such a close-knit staff.

When Contemporary Flavors employee Dawn Mones and her mother approached him to handle the cooking, he ran the idea by his staff, and everybody chipped in — many volunteering to work Thanksgiving Day.

Nakata said it’s just part of being in the restaurant business.

“We’re probably with each other more than with our families anyway,” he said, laughing.

Oyama said they had prepared so much turkey — 230 pounds of it — that even the local chickens knew to keep their distance.

“You’ll notice there aren’t many of them hanging around outside,” he said.

Some 230 pounds and nearly 500 dinners? That’s a lot of food. But just how good was it, really?

Mones, who attends Island School, offered her review.

“The food was beyond my wildest dreams!” she said. “And you can quote me on that.”

• Luke Shanahan, business writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 251) or lshanahan@kauaipubco.com


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