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Nourish Kaua‘i program feeds ohanas in need

  • Stephanie Shinno / The Garden Island

    Holding up local produced salads are Brenda Mcginnis, councilwoman Feilcia Cowden and Karolyn Freuler.

  • Stephanie Shinno / The Garden Island

    Fresh produce from local farmers were donated to be given out to families in need.

  • Contributed by Karolyn Freuler

    Carol Meek and Laura Pearl boxed the donated greens for families to enjoy.

  • Stephanie Shinno / The Garden Island

    Councilwoman Felicia Cowden gets the chocolate apple banana muffins ready.

  • Stephanie Shinno / The Garden Island

    Edna Foronda and Aida Castro enjoy the produce in line waiting for their dinners.

  • Stephanie Shinno / The Garden Island

    Blackened Ahi with sweet potatoe was placed in a tray for a family to enjoy.

  • Contributed by Karolyn Freuler

    Fisherman Kevin Desilva and his grandson Cyris Baltazar with a 209 lb Ahi they caught to donate for this event.

  • Stephanie Shinno / The Garden Island

    Timbers Resort Chef Zach Cummings with Joshua Rex and his younger brother Kaleo Cummings who was stirring up the stir fry.

  • Contributed by Karolyn Freuler

    Debi Leblanc making homemade chocolate apple banana muffins.

On Wednesday, Nourish Kaua‘i, a service project spear headed by Crossroads Christian Church’s community outreach director Karolyn Freuler served 635 hot meals and gave out 204 USDA farmer’ s boxes to 165 families, 90 houseless individuals and about 40 kupuna at St. Catherine’s Church in Kapahi with a group of volunteers.

“I feel so happy of course to receive this food,” said Aida Castro who was with her friend Edna Foronda.

This was the second event in the month of May that was sponsored by a team of individuals and inspired by Freuler’s own hardships. Before the pandemic, Freuler was the owner of Kauai Pasta in Kapa‘a, and due to her own personal reasons, she had to close down the restaurant and work at another restaurant. In 2019, Freuler said she went through some very difficult times personally and experienced a lot of losses in a short amount of time. On March 15, Freuler was furloughed from her job and had a strong urge to help people through food.

“I just feel food has a way of nourishing people beyond merely physical sustenance. It makes people feel loved and cared for, which is especially important during a crisis such as this,” said Freuler. “So, when COVID19 happened, I had a lot of empathy for people losing their jobs and businesses since I had faced all of that the year prior.”

In 2018, Freuler created a similar movement during the April floods, but at that time she had her own funds to support it. This time it was much more difficult to fund her service project with raising her kids on her own and being out of work. With the help of one of her friends, she was connected with councilmember Felicia Cowden, whom she told about her vision to feed the community during the pandemic and who helped get the ball rolling.

“She has been so helpful and supportive, with a heart to help people get the food and care they need,” said Freuler. “Last week and this week, she has donated a portion of her salary to our program, so we can buy ingredients.”

Freuler said the county has promised to fund the program for the next six weeks, allowing us to feed 200 families once a week, but we are still waiting for that to come through.”

In the meantime, a couple of private donors, including Cowden, have allowed them to keep their commitment to families while they wait for the county funding.

Cowden said the food distribution is the second week in which she has helped Nourish Kaua’i to address the basic need for healthy food, without shame, in this difficult time when so many are not receiving the expected unemployment financial support during this time of work shutdown.

“Hopefully, the county will fund the program soon. As an elected leader, I feel a responsibility to stand with the people who are being financially left behind,” said Cowden. “So many are in need, and so many helping that are themselves struggling; it has seemed fitting to me to share my salary with various projects as a way to help carry the load and understand the burden. Nourish Kaua’i feeds the people and supports our local food producers. It is a win-win.”

On May 7, Freuler was able to feed 200 people hot meals with the help of others in the community.

To make that distribution possible Ann Hashisaka, owner of Kauai Kookie donated cookies, chicken, rice and cabbage. Private Chef John Keller helped Freuler cook the meals. Cowden donated part of her salary to buy food to make the meals and several people from Crossroads Christian Fellowship donated time or money to help cook, and deliver the meals.

They served shepherd’s pie with Wailua beef and farmer’s vegetables, oven roasted bone-in chicken thighs and stir friend local veggies.

Last week’s menu started with Blackened Seared Ahi with coconut purple sweet potatoes, Asian slaw salad, ginger-soy and siracha aioli; Asian Stir-fried Wailua Beef with Kaua‘i farmed veggies, brown rice, Hokuala Farm salad with assorted vegetables and miso vinaigrette; Kaua‘i apple-banana bread with chocolate chips, Kilauea papayas, lime, fresh coconut juice and meat.

Freuler said the menu was locally sourced, because they are passionate about supporting local agriculture and putting money back into Kaua‘i’s fragile economy.

The sponsors or helpers for this event included: councilmember Cowden, Councilman Mason Chock, Paulina Ann connected the program with ‘Aina Ho‘okupu o Kilauea who providing USDA farm boxes that was distributed to families in need; Hokuala Farm at Timbers Resort donated produce to cook meals; Haole Girl Sweets will me making some of their individual portioned meals with local ingredients; Ne Mana Hui Farm donated coconuts, limes and plantains.

Chef Zach Cummings from Timbers Resort donated his time to help cook; Collin Darrell of Darrell Distribution helped with web design and other items; Amber owner of Squeaky Clean Hawaii donated her time to clean and sanitize the kitchen at St. Catherine’s Church prior to use; and Kauai Juice Company will be donating 15 cases of kombucha to the families on their list next week.

“I came helping out a good cause…helping by feeding families on the eastside,” said chef Cummings who brought his brother Kaleo Cummings along to help cook.

Nourish Kaua‘i’s program is looking to service families in need from Anahola to Lihu‘e, with an emphasis on Wailua, Kapa‘a and Kapahi.

Freuler said they are serving whoever is in need regardless of age, race, gender, etc.

“All people need to eat. Our target that we feel is slipping through the cracks is the unemployed working families, many who have not yet received their UI,” said Freuler.

Freuler goes on to say that their qualification guidelines are similar to the county’s.

Anyone who is unemployed, self-employed or on some type of assistance like SNAP, EBT, QUEST, TANF and HUD will be eligible for the program.

Freuler continued to say, if funding comes through as promised from the county, their program will run every Wednesday through June 24th and pick up times will be from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

To register for this program, sign up here: https://bit.ly/2Xwp59w

For more info, email nourishakauai2020@gmail.com or call 808-635-3722.

•••

Stephanie Shinno, features and community reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or sshinno@thegardenisland.com.

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