Ironman Foundation hosts 14th Kahiau Together event

  • A woman waves after receiving her grocery bundle during the Ironman Foundation's 14th Kahiau Together event held Monday in Kailua-Kona. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

  • Hundreds turned out Monday morning during Ironman Foundation’s 14th Kahiau Together event amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

  • Volunteers load a vehicle Monday morning during Ironman Foundation’s 14th Kahiau Together drive-through event amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

It may be a new year, but one thing certainly hasn’t changed as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on: hunger.

Hundreds of cars lined up at Kona International Market in Kailua-Kona to get a free tasty, healthy grocery bundle provided by the Ironman Foundation via its ongoing Kahiau Initiative.

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Each of the 600 grocery bundles distributed Monday contained a tray of chicken thighs, a pound each of sausage mix and ground beef from Waimea, tofu made in Hilo, 18 island-laid eggs, arugula, mung beans, Hamakua Mushrooms, and a 5-pound bag of rice. Along with the food was a recipe for Pa‘ina Local Moco from Chef Jason Kanekoa.

Mahea Akau, Ironman World Championship event manager and community relations manager for Kahiau Together, estimated each bundle could provide as many as 16 meals.

Ironman Foundation’s $1 million Kahiau Together initiative got underway in July to keep Hawaii Island fed amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The foundation selected the Hawaiian word “kahiau” because it means to give generously or lavishly without the expectation of anything in return — something Hawaii Island has provided the Ironman World Championship annually for more than four decades.

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Since kicking off the event last summer, the foundation, Ironman’s nonprofit arm, has distributed tens of thousands of meals via 14 events held in West Hawaii.

The 43rd running of the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, which was to be held Oct. 10, 2020, was canceled due to the pandemic. The triathlon featuring a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run is set to return Oct. 9, 2021.

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