KILAUEA — A weekly meal kit delivery program serving North Shore kupuna has reached its halfway milestone.
Common Ground Kaua‘i (CGK) announced that their Meal Kit Delivery Program has hit over 1,200 meal kits including 4,800 meals delivered to North Shore kupuna.
“Having lived on Kaua’i through many challenging events — from ‘Iniki to the current pandemic — I have always judged a community by how they respond to crises and take care of each other,” Gail Hunter, aka “Aunty Gail” of Wainiha, said. “I am so appreciative of this program that provides fresh and locally produced food to those in need during these difficult times. The quality of the food is excellent, and I have learned to enjoy ingredients, such as ‘ulu, in new ways.”
Rae Nam, aka “Aunty Rae” of Anahola, echoed Hunter’s gratitude.
“The kupuna in Anahola have been so blessed to see healthy Kaua’i grown food and Kaua’i made products in their meal kits,” Nam said. “They look forward to receiving it and say it’s great to have a recipe, and everything is so fresh and delicious. The faithful team that delivers these meal kits add to making a great connection to our Anahola kupuna.”
In August, Common Ground, in partnership with Kaua‘i Government Employee Federal Credit Union, was awarded $150,000 through a grant program using Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funds to launch and operate a meal kit delivery program. Every week, they distribute local food to seniors from Anahola to Ha‘ena.
Common Ground and KGEFCU were among a number of islandwide recipients to receive funding from the county for food support programs for Kaua‘i residents.
“Food is a connector,” Sarah Wright, director of the Meal Kit Delivery Program at CGK, said. “Providing food assistance to our kūpuna, who are considered a high-risk group during the COVID-19 crisis, is a high priority for our community.”
“The program, which sources products exclusively from local purveyors, also aligns with Common Ground’s overall mission to uplift the local food economy,” she added.
Every week, the CGK’s team prepares and distributes over 100 meal kits to recipients. Each meal kit contains about four servings of food. CGK plans to deliver a total of 2,400 meal kits, which is equivalent to 9,600 meal servings.
By offering pick-up and no-contact home delivery options, the program has benefited kupuna who are housebound due to medical or other reasons.
Collaboration with local organizations — Hanalei Colony Resort, Waipa Foundation, Kukulu Kumuhana O Anahola, and Ka Hale Pono — have facilitated weekly distributions.
Each meal kit contains protein and starch as well as other local food products, such as fruits and vegetables. With each bag, the ingredients and featured vendors are listed with brief preparation instructions.
Over a dozen Kaua‘i-based vendors have been included so far, such as Wailua Meat Company, Kaua‘i Kim Chee, Bone To Be Wild, ‘Aina Ho’okupu o Kilauea, and Moloa‘a Organica‘a. The meal-kit ingredients have been compiled in a variety of recipes from beef burgers to pork noodle bowls.
Adam Watten, co-director of Incubator@Common Ground, oversees the product procurement for the Meal Kit Delivery Program.
“When it comes to curating these meal kits, it’s good to know your audience,” Watten said. “Here on Kaua‘i, we have access to fresh, high-quality local products, and talented producers; this program is the perfect opportunity to highlight these vendors and link them to the broader community.”
The idea for this program emerged in June, when the long-term economic impacts of COVID-19 were becoming evident. Through private funding, Common Ground teamed up with community leaders to procure and deliver 100 boxes of local food products to the westside’s Kaumakani residents.
The positive feedback of this one-time initiative paved the way for the formulation of the Meal Kit Delivery Program a few months later.