Editor’s note: Each Wednesday, West Hawaii Today is publishing a story about individuals, groups or organizations that have helped make life better for others in our community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
David Viviano is no stranger to making sure those around him are well fed.
As the Fairmont Orchid’s Executive Chef, Viviano’s skills in the kitchen are typically put to use to feed the guests at the 540-room hotel on the Kohala Coast. When the coronavirus began to take its toll on Hawaii, Viviano started to search for ways to continue feeding the community surrounding him.
Before his staff was furloughed in April, he led the Fairmont Orchid’s effort to provide 84 meals to frontline medical staff in West Hawaii.
“Like everybody in the hospitality industry, we started downsizing. I could see what was happening, so I figured while I still had staff on property, let’s make an impact and reach out to the community,” said Viviano. “This is really when the coronavirus was starting to heat up and we were starting to see more cases. I have doctors within my family and friends that are nurses; it was just something that seemed like the right thing to do… They’re risking their health on a daily basis, so I thought it was a nice gesture.”
In addition, Brown’s Deli at Fairmont Orchid offered complimentary lunches to police and firefighters throughout much of April until they too were furloughed. As the last member of the Fairmont Orchid’s culinary staff on site, Viviano’s attention turned to ensuring his colleagues were fed.
“We call all of our colleagues at the Fairmont Orchid Heartists — so we did ‘Heartists on the Road,’” Viviano said. “We did a bunch of shelf-stable items from sodas to water, popcorn, granola bars, chips, things of that nature. We made 300 bags and drove around the island and met our colleagues to give to them.”
While providing food for his fellow Heartists remains a high priority for Viviano — he’ll be leading a similar project later this month delivering take-and-bake pizza bags along with popcorn and snacks — he’s also working with Chef Hui and Activate Hawaii Aid to help their Give &Go and Feed the People programs gain traction on the Big Island.
Give &Go partners with restaurants currently open for takeout or delivery. For each meal the restaurant provides to underserved communities and essential frontline workers, they’re offered an $8 stipend.
Viviano is more directly involved with the Feed the People project, which provides meal kits filled with locally sourced ingredients designed to feed up to eight people.
“They’ve asked me to write recipes and to help keep their food cost below $10 per bag,” said Viviano. “I submitted my first recipe to them last week. Right now, they’re focusing on the Puna area. Within a week or so, they’ll use my recipe to start building bags and giving them to the community.”
The programs are aiming to continue providing support to the Puna area — which has been identified as among the most underserved areas on the Big Island — for eight weeks, and the programs’ organizers hope to ultimately spread the project throughout the Big Island.
Until Viviano finally gets back to work feeding the Fairmont Orchid’s guests as the Big Island gets back to some sort of a new normal, he’ll continue making sure his community is being fed.
“This is my home where I want to raise my family,” said Viviano. “The island is my ohana, so whatever I can do to assist, especially in a time of crisis, I’m willing to do it.”
Know a Hometown Hero that should be highlighted next Wednesday? It can be anybody, from a youngster doing good for the community, to a professional helping with the COVID-19 pandemic, or even a kupuna! Please send your nominations to email@example.com with the subject: Hometown Heroes Nomination. Please include the hero’s name, contact information and what makes them a hero.