KAPA‘A — Kelly Kakalia of The Musubi Truck said she worries about keiki when parents go to work during times school is not in session.
“It used to drive me crazy when I was younger,” Kakalia said between orders at the food truck at 4548 Kukui St. in Kapa‘a. “When there was no school and both my parents were at work, I went crazy trying to figure out what to eat.”
That feeling fueled her desire to continue providing musubi, with the community’s help, to keiki during those times school is not in session.
“There are keiki who still have their vouchers,” Kakalia said. “Don’t throw them away. They can bring them here and we’ll honor it.”
Pending any last-minute COVID-19 advisories, the state Department of Education calls for public schools to re-open to full in-person learning following winter break on Tuesday morning.
“We were ready,” Kakalia said. “We could continue to feed keiki, with the community’s help, if schools did not open.”
Among her final hours of the day, people were still coming in to pick up keiki musubi — a package containing an OG (original) musubi, a bag of chips and a container of juice. They also contributed to Kakalia’s cause of feeding the keiki, up to a 2,000-meal limit, during the winter break.
During the final week before winter break, Kakalia said they managed 250 Spam packages on Wednesday, a DOE short school day, with the help of friends, including the Kaua‘i Skate ‘Ohana, Aloha Exchange and personal friends.
“We had deliveries to Anahola, pickups from the truck and, for the first time, Hanama‘ulu and Lihu‘e,” Kakalia said. “We have friends who live in those areas and they know the keiki. They get orders from them, and deliver them for the keiki.”
Kakalia said the Wednesday deliveries helped them get past the 1,000 mark in how many keiki were fed. As days tick down to the re-opening of school, The Musubi Truck cranked out numbers that fell only slightly short of the program’s 2,000-meal goal.
“I went out on some of the deliveries,” Kakalia said. “To see all those faces and smiles when they come to get the bags is what makes this worthwhile. This is got to be my most favorite thing to do.”
She doesn’t want to stop there.
“We need to do more,” Kakalia said. “We need outreach to the North Shore and the Westside. Someone told me about delivering to keiki who live in cars, and when I was in Lihu‘e for deliveries, I saw a lot of keiki who use the Lihu‘e skate ramp. We could do more if we take care of them. The Hanapepe skate park also gets heavy use from kids. That could be the starting point for Westside outreach.”
Fueled by these needs, Kakalia is continuing to accept contributions from the community to help feed keiki.
The relationship established with the Kaua‘i Independent Food Bank has proven crucial, as KIFB provides the food truck with rice and Spam. This alone adds value to the dollar contributions, enabling more keiki to be fed for each dollar contributed.
Other contribution types include those from delivery friends who can take care of those areas needing musubi for keiki.
“I want to do it,” Kakalia said. “But you gotta know what you’re doing. We can’t do it alone.”
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or email@example.com.