Lunch is served, finally

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Kawaikini kindergartener Hali‘imaile Hose examines one of the lunches prepared in the mobile, commercial-grade food truck trailer Monday at Kawaikini Public Charter School in Puhi.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Kawaikini Public Charter School kindergartener Hali‘imaile Hose can’t wait to sample the lunch set out Monday from the mobile, commercial-grade food truck trailer at the Puhi campus.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Chef Barbara Ka‘auwai completes a lunch plate of baked laulau, brown rice, kale lomi salad and oranges Monday in the mobile, commercial-grade food truck trailer at Kawaikini Public Charter School in Puhi.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    State Rep. Nadine Nakamura, seventh from left, join leaders of Malama Kauai and Kawaikini Public Charter School in celebrating Chef Barbara Ka‘auwai, in trailer, and the mobile, commercial-grade food truck trailer in Puhi Monday.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Guests at Kawaikini Public Charter School in Puhi look at the fit of the commercial-grade food truck trailer that will serve as a food-service source Monday.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Kawaikini Public Charter kindergarten student Hali‘imaile Hose checks out the view from the new commercial-grade food truck trailer at the school’s lower campus in Puhi Monday.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Chef Barbara Ka‘auwai moves baked laulau from the oven to the warmer in the new commercial food truck trailer Monday at Kawaikini Public Charter School in Puhi.

Alohilani Rogers has freed up some time in her packed morning schedule now that she doesn’t have to make lunch for her son at Kawaikini Public Charter School.

That’s because Malama Kauai’s Farm-to-School program just opened its commercial kitchen trailer at the school and Chef Barbara Ka‘auwai is serving lunch for the school every day.

“My son and I sat down and went over the menu. We’re all signed up,” Rogers said. “They’ve got good stuff, poi and laulau, lots of choices.”

Monday Ka‘auwai fired up the mobile kitchen and served the first of many red trays from the back window, piled high with kale lomi, baked laulau, brown rice and orange slices.

A flat grill and an oven, fryers and refrigeration — the kitchen truck is hooked up with enough equipment to make practically anything the chef says.

“I’ve set it up the way that I think it’ll work best for me, cold on one side and hot on the other,” Ka‘auwai said. “Storage is the main concern for me, but it’s working good right now.”

Fresh, local and some of it from the Kawaikini school garden, the ingredients for Kawaikini lunches fit with the Malama Kauai Farm-to-School program’s criteria of consistent nutritious and culturally-relevant school food that’s complimented by education in agriculture and nutrition.

It’s a way to connect kids with their food, culture and history while keeping their bellies full and helping parents as much as possible.

“We’re so excited for this truck, it’s the culmination of more than two years’ work,” said Megan Fox, executive director of Malama Kauai.

It’s been a whirlwind setting up the commercial kitchen, Ka‘auwai said, and though the project has been in the works for two years, she just moved in at the beginning of the month.

Much of the equipment had to be ordered from the mainland, the food truck itself came from the Big Island, and funding came through a grant from the Department of Agriculture, as well as donations.

Total cost was about $80,000.

State Rep. Nadine Nakamura was instrumental in securing grants and helping get funding, and dropped by the mobile kitchen Monday to celebrate its first meal.

“When I got elected (to the state Legislature) I asked what’s needed, and this was a priority, and I was happy to support it,” Nakamura said. “Now I’m amazed to be able to turn it around and see the follow through on this.”

About 140 students attend Kawaikini. Those signing up for the lunches pay a nominal fee.

Keone Kealoha of Malama Kauai helped plant the seed that turned into the mobile commercial kitchen years ago, and was overjoyed to see the dream come to fruition.

“This mobile lunch box represents something, the ability to feed our kids so they can go to school and learn,” Kealoha said. “The charter schools, most don’t even have a lunch program.”

Fox said the commercial kitchen at Kawaikini could be the first of many.

And while the adults swirled around the outside of the charcoal-colored truck, Kawaikini kindergartner Hali‘imaile Hose hovered around the food warmers inside the truck while Ka‘auwai pulled together last-minute food-service details.

Excited about the new truck and all the activity, Hali‘imaile said she was most excited for the laulau.

“I like the kind with meat in it,” she said.


Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or

  1. Charlie Chimknee November 28, 2018 6:56 am Reply

    Aloha Kakou,

    Kudos and Bravos,

    Kale Lomi, brown rice, poi, baked laulau, and orange slices…now that is the most nutrient filled, NON SUGAR, NO NEED Agriculture POISON, life longevity promoting, Brain noursishing kaukau plate we ever heard of.

    That food alone would cause weight loss, clear up teen acne, reduce flu and cold occurence, and build strong bones and bodies in several ways.

    Add to that: water only to drink (be sure no sodas nor milk to drink, nor any dairy at all to eat and it will help to prevent obesity, diabetes, heart and vascular disease, and cancers.

    This is the real deal to promote health in young, or old, people.

    Just take the animal meat flesh out of the laulau and add in some more super veggies, maybe a little gentle curry, and open the door to the public as well, and put those wagons island wide and it will turn Kauai healthy and get the fat people “off the street “.

    This is Food for Health that prevents the need for Disease Care.

    Mahalo to Chef Barbara Ka’auwai


  2. harry oyama November 28, 2018 11:08 am Reply

    One of a better solution to school’s meals especially when the kids are involved in growing some of the food that goes into these lunches.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.