Hometown Heroes: Vibrant Hawaii launches Kaukau 4 Keiki program

  • Students at the University of Hawaii at Hilo formed a distribution team to serve more than 600 keiki each week as part of Vibrant Hawaii’s recently launched food program Kaukau 4 Keiki. (Courtesy photos/Special to West Hawaii Today)

  • Students at the University of Hawaii at Hilo formed a distribution team to serve more than 600 keiki each week as part of Vibrant Hawaii’s recently launched food program Kaukau 4 Keiki. (Courtesy photo/Special to West Hawaii Today)

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.

Vibrant Hawaii recently launched a new food program Kaukau 4 Keiki as part of a multi-week initiative to feed thousands of children, providing each child with breakfast and lunch supplies.

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From June 14 until July 30, Vibrant Hawaii will serve breakfast and lunch supplies to 4,000 children ages 18 and younger, including adults up to 22 years old who have a registered disability. The initiative will take place across the Big Island at 25 distribution sites, with community volunteers distributing the kits.

The meal kits contain 10 pounds of fresh produce provided by local farmers as well as pantry staples such as bread, milk, and protein such as poultry and fish. This initiative is funded through a $100,000 grant provided by No Kid Hungry and the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program.

Through these sponsors, and with the support of Friends of the Future, Vibrant Hawaii will be able to provide children and eligible adults with food supplies valued at $55.65 per kit. This is the first year that the USDA Summer Food Service Program Kaukau 4 Keiki is being offered in the state.

“This program came together in just three weeks,” said Janice Ikeda, executive director of Vibrant Hawaii, “and it would not have happened without volunteers stepping up to serve the keiki in their community. These folks truly represent the very best of Hawaii Island.”

Vibrant Hawaii has partnered with several local vegetable and fruit distributors: Hilo Products, Pa‘ina By Ocean, and ‘O Ka‘u Kakou. For staple pantry items such as boxed and canned foods, bread, and milk, the organization has partnered with Hawaii Foodservice Alliance.

The partnership is reaching out to the public for cash donations to help fulfill an overwhelming need for summer meals.

Families located in zip codes starting with “967” can sign up to receive a meal box for their keiki online, or by calling 2-1-1 if they do not have access to the internet. However, because funding is extremely limited, applications are no longer being accepted in certain areas, while others have started waitlists.

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Donations can be made online at www.kaukau4keiki.org. For more information about Vibrant Hawaii, visit www.vibranthawaii.org.

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 cjensen@westhawaiitoday.com with the subject: Hometown Heroes Nomination. Please include the hero’s name, contact information and what makes them a hero.

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