Youth from Makaha to Kaneohe may pick up free takeout lunches in their neighborhoods as nonprofit groups have stepped up to supplement the grab-and-go meals offered at 42 public schools across the state.
The meals for children are to replace breakfasts and lunches they normally would receive if public schools were in session and not closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. On an average school day, nearly 65,000 students across the state receive subsidized breakfast and lunch at school due to low family incomes.
Hawaii’s public school campuses are scheduled to remain closed through April 30 except for the grab-and-go meals. The full list of campuses where the Department of Education is offering takeout breakfast and lunch is available at hawaiipublicschools.org.
The Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center is overseeing an effort to provide 10,000 meals a week at four far-flung elementary schools in addition to the public schools on the Waianae Coast where the DOE is serving the grab-and-go meals.
“Even when this (coronavirus) was not happening, our coast is living in a state of emergency as far as food goes,” said Alicia Higa, director of health promotion for the center. “One hundred percent of our coast, the kids receive free breakfast and lunch. That is two meals a day that have now been removed since school has closed, in addition to the pressure put on the parents by so many being laid off.”
Breakfasts and lunches will be offered from 10 a.m. to noon each weekday, packaged together to make it easier for families and reduce the length of time kids have to spend away from home, she said. The four sites are Kamaile, Leihoku and Waianae elementary schools as of Monday, with Makaha Elementary starting on Wednesday.
The health center also operates food pantries at several schools and is ramping up those efforts. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, a bag of groceries will also be available for families at the four elementary schools. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the pantries will operate at the five other schools where the Department of Education is offering meals: Waianae High, Waianae Intermediate, Maili Elementary, Nanakuli High and Intermediate and Nanaikapono Elementary.
The health center is working with multiple partners, including Aloha Harvest, University of Hawaii at West Oahu, Malama Meals and Hawaii Foodbank.
On the town side, the nonprofit Parents and Children Together will sponsor takeout lunches for children through April 30 at Kuhio Park Terrace Community Resource Center at 1485 Linapuni St. The meals are available 12-1 p.m. on weekdays, except for holidays. Palama Settlement is also offering free lunches to keiki from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on weekdays, from March 30 throughout the school closures at its facility at 810 North Vineyard Blvd.
The YMCA of Honolulu has extended its distribution of free meals to children in need at five sites on weekdays through April 3 and hopes to get support to keep the meals going beyond that date. It is working in partnership with Aloha Harvest, Kapiolani Community College, the Hawaii Appleseed Center, Hawaii Child Nutrition Program and others.
“It’s important to us to ensure that no one in our community goes hungry during these uncertain times,” said Diane Tabangay, executive director of youth development for the YMCA of Honolulu. “While we are working with community partners, we are still in need of monetary donations, as we hope we can extend our meal distribution through the entire month of April.”
Meals are available for pick-up from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. outside the following facilities:
>> Puohala Elementary School, 45-233 Kulauli St., Kaneohe
>> Kalihi Valley Instructional Bike Exchange, 1638 Kamehameha IV Road
>> Palolo Valley Homes, 2170 Ahe St.
>> Nuuanu YMCA, 1441 Pali Highway
>> Melemanu Recreation Center, 98-2031 Waikalani Place, Mililani
>> INSPIRE Church, 95-061 Waimakua Drive, Mililani
Windward Nazarene Academy in Kaneohe will also offer takeout meals to children from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on weekdays starting Tuesday until schools reopen, with distribution at its campus at 45-232 Puaae Road.
To support or donate to the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center effort, email email@example.com or visit that website.
To donate to the YMCA effort, email firstname.lastname@example.org or give online at ymcahonolulu.org/donate.