Maoloha on the move

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island file

    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 in November.

PUHI — The first time Malama Kauai fired up their new kitchen trailer was in November, on the grounds of Kawaikini Public Charter School.

Since then, the school’s second-grade class named has named the trailer “Maoloha,” after the large-meshed nets used at Hawaiian makahiki ceremonies. It represents the trailer’s purpose in feeding the community.

It’s been central to the Kawaikini farm-to-school lunch pilot program, slinging farm-fresh food from its strategically set-up kitchen.

The first meal to come out of the commercial-grade food truck trailer was served on a red lunch plate, piled high with kale, lomi, baked laulau, brown rice and orange slices. Ingredients come from area farmers who are looking for extra outlets for produce and value-added products.

Kristine Long, Kauai farmer who makes and sells My Kauai Honey, joined the project to help launch the trailer because she says it benefits both farmers and the whole community.

“I’m really excited about the potential of this new venture for our farm. It can definitely help get our honey products to market and support our drive to add new offerings,” she says. “Access to a commercial kitchen is the next step to bring our products to the forefront.”

Now, the 20-foot trailer is ready to step further into the public spotlight, and Malama Kauai is looking for a new location for Maoloha. The next step is determining where the kitchen is most needed based on community interest, and finding a property owner or manager willing to host the unit onsite, according to Malama Kauai’s Executive Director Megan Fox.

“Commercial kitchen access is such a bottleneck in our local food system,” Fox said. “Ideally we’d like to move fast and have a new location up and running in August. It’d be a great spot to cut and wrap fruit, prepare sandwiches, or even prepare kalo products for market.”

The unit includes a propane system, commercial hood, three-compartment sink and grease trap, two sandwich-prep tables with under-counter refrigeration, a two-drawer refrigerated chef base, two under-counter freezers, burner range with a convection oven, griddle and a char broil, as well as a double-door refrigerator.

The trailer was funded in part by the state Department of Agriculture, Friends of Hawaii Charities, National Farm to School Network, and a private family foundation.

Those interested in utilizing the commercial kitchen trailer can get more information and complete an interest form at malamakauai.org. Property mangers or owners interested in hosting Maoloha should contact project manager Kristine Long at maoloha@malamakauai.org or 828-0685, ext. 7.

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Jessica Else, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0452 or jelse@thegardenisland.com.

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