A few local, small businesses are coming together to make sure that East Hawaii’s keiki are fed this Thursday, March 26, and they’re looking for additional support from the community. Many students have been utilizing the Hawaii Department of Education lunch programs while schools are out due to COVID-19.
Since Thursday, March 26 is Prince Kuhio Day, a state holiday, the schools will not be serving meals that day.
“I actually sat outside of Waiakea High School and St. Joseph’s School today while my children participated in the meal program, and I watched as keiki took their breakfast and lunch plates. It is clear that these programs are vital to make sure that our keiki are eating while schools are closed, and we don’t want anyone to end up missing a meal,” said Laycie Tobosa, owner of Island Healing Massage Company.
On Tuesday afternoon Tobosa, along with Laurie Lyons-Makaimoku, co-owner of Makaimoku & Sons Rock Wall started working with community contacts to find the best possible way to feed as many kids in the community as they could. Continue reading to find out how to donate!
They found the right community partner in Tania Shimazu, owner of Asami’s Kitchen, who agreed to make breakfast and lunch bentos for the keiki for just $3 each. Each bento will include healthy proteins, carbohydrates, and fruits and vegetables to create a complete, nutritious meal. In addition to cooking and preparing the food, Asami’s Kitchen will match the purchases 1 to 1, doubling the number of meals that the group will be able to offer.
“We here at Asami’s Kitchen are always humbled by the outpouring of Aloha that we receive daily, so when the opportunity presented itself to help our AMAZING Hilo community we were more than happy to help, especially when it comes to the keiki,” Shimazu said. “All keiki need nutritious and hearty meals; they help them to thrive and grow, and we hope that in a small way it can bring some happiness during all of this.”
A few small businesses have already contributed to the fundraiser and organizing the distribution, including Tobosa and Lyons-Makaimoku’s businesses, Vegan Aloha, and BigIslandPulse.com. They are still looking for additional donations from the community to help fund the majority of the meals. Those interested in making a contribution can donate via Venmo or Paypal (use firstname.lastname@example.org for both) by 2 p.m. on Wednesday, March 25. For those with more questions or wanting to make a cash donation, Tobosa can be reached at (808)315-9399. Any donations in excess of the cost of the meals will go toward Tobosa’s efforts to create donation bags for kupuna.
Keiki meals, including a limited number of vegan meals, will be available for pick up at Asami’s Kitchen at 308 Kilauea Avenue on Thursday, March 26 from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. (breakfast) and 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (lunch), or until meals run out. As with HIDOE’s distribution, one meal will be given for each child in the car.