Meet Phil A., Aloha Harvest
The first week of April, something inspiring happened. We put up a post that received thousands of responses and messages of hope and aloha, and many heartfelt accounts of what is happening on the front lines as our ‘ohana is struggling through this worldwide pandemic. That day, we gave away shoes to the heroes in our communities, and we want to share some of those stories with you as we continue to send a big mahalo to those who are taking care of us all.
As schools all over the globe were shutting down, thousands of children who rely on school meals were left not knowing where their next meal would come from. In Hawai‘i, many organizations like Aloha Harvest, along with partner organizations like Chef Hui, mobilized to feed their communities. Here is their story:
“I grew up in a large family of 11, living in a small 560 sq ft. home in Waianae. Both of my parents worked multiple jobs to keep a roof over our head and food on the table. We relied on social services and food pantries, and even grew our own food in the backyard, selling what we could at the swap meet for additional income. I certainly know what it’s like to be poor and hungry. School breakfast and lunch were very important for us, and I know that many families are struggling right now and will continue to struggle for quite some time, particularly with food insecurity. When Amanda and Chef Gooch of Chef Hui reached out to us regarding a potential partnership, I jumped at the opportunity. Both are leaders and innovators in the community, and both have been tremendous supporters of Aloha Harvest and our mission to create a more efficient and equitable food system. I am privileged to be able work alongside them, our staff, and volunteers, to give back in the same way that we relied on others to sustain us for many years.”
In a typical week, Aloha Harvest rescues approximately 25,000 – 30,000 pounds of quality excess food and distributes it free of charge to multiple agencies feeding the poor, needy, and homeless. Within the first few weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have nearly tripled that amount as restaurants and hotels were forced to shut down. They are now working alongside Chef Hui’s network of chefs, restaurateurs, and folks in the food service industry in the midst of this public health and economic crisis. They have seen much Aloha poured out throughout the community as multiple organizations stepped up to feed the need of the people and feel fortunate enough to partner up with many of these programs to include Malama Meals, Salvation Army, Waianae Comprehensive, KUPU, KEY Project, KKV, KVIBE, PACT, YMCA, Kapiolani Community College, and many others. Specifically through the first 10 days of our collaboration with Chef Hui, they invested over 270 volunteer hours to rescue nearly 20,000 pounds of food, redistributing that to 25 social service agencies, including those listed, who in turn served over 16,000 meals to the keiki, kupuna, and their `ohana.