Nearly 1000 Families Fed in Produce Distribution
By Catherine Cluett Pactol
The largest food distribution effort of its kind brought 960 boxes of produce to Molokai families last week through a multi-agency effort coordinated by nonprofit Sust’aina ble Molokai. The organization has been coordinating regular food giveaways to communities around the island during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last Friday afternoon’s distribution at Lanikeha Community Center was federally funded by the USDA Farmers to Families (F2F) food box program, with the help of more than a dozen local agencies and many Molokai volunteers. Administered on Molokai through Sust’aina ble Molokai’s Hoʻokuʻikahi Aloha Molokai (“uniting together for the love of Molokai”) — an initiative that focuses on COVID relief through food banking and giveaways — the F2F program has funded the food and shipping of Molokai food giveaways twice a month during the pandemic. The food is supplied through Honolulu’s Ham Seafood and Produce.
F2F recipients opened their boxes to find potatoes, onions, melons, pineapples and other produce. Those who got boxes were full of gratitude and kudos for the program, sharing profuse thanks on social media.
Katy Mokuau, project coordinator for Hoʻokuʻikahi Aloha Molokai, said previously, the distribution offered a little more than 100 food boxes. The most recent distribution of more than 900 boxes was “quite an undertaking,” she said, that served “a big chunk of Molokai’s population.”
“The goal is get more food out to everyone who is in need and also work together with the community because it’s a heavily volunteer effort to accomplish it,” Mokuau said. “I feel like all the agencies involved are trying to pull their resources to get it out there. That’s the best part about it all.”
Another Sust’aina ble Molokai grant-funded program that helps make sure residents stay fed involves distribution of Molokai-grown and gathered food.
“The other part is supporting farmers and producers on Molokai, while also taking advantage of this federally funded program,” Mokuau explained.
The locally grown produce is available through regular island-wide food bank locations.
Larger-scale F2F distributions, with more specific requirements to target those in need, are expected to continue on a twice-monthly basis, said Mokuau.