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Kaukau for Keiki in Maui County

Spring Break Kaukau 4 Keiki delivered over 1,500 boxes of locally-grown food to families in Molokai, Lānaʻi and Maui

In Maui County, spring break started with a massive community effort to stop childhood hunger. Kaukau 4 Keiki (K4K), is a program designed to get boxes of locally-grown nourishments  to food insecure keiki during school breaks. They delivered a week’s supply of produce, poi, rice, bread, coconut milk, and Maui Cattle Company ground beef to over 1,500 families in Molokai, Lānaʻi and Maui. 

 

K4K started as a statewide initiative in the summer of 2021 in response to rural families’ lack of access to the Hawai’i Department of Education’s grab-and-go meal sites. The K4K model utilized the federally funded, state-administered Summer Food Service Program and the USDA’s COVID-19 reimbursement waivers to purchase locally-grown food and deliver weekly meal boxes to keiki in rural areas experiencing food insecurity (not having enough affordable and nutritious food) . Moved by the impact and need for Kaukau 4 Keiki, the Maui K4K team – with Maui K4K Coordinator Kaimana Brummel and Maui K4K fiscal sponsor Maui United Way – found private funding to support a fall break, winter break and spring break K4K local food box delivery for Maui, Molokai, and Lānaʻi.

 

Across Hawai’i, 40 percent of public school students qualify for free or affordable lunch. While school meals are free for all public schools for the 2021-2022 school year, many students continue to face hunger at home, especially during school breaks. The need for Kaukau 4 Keiki is high. Nicholas Winfrey, the President of Maui United Way shared that 1,500 spots to sign up for K4K this Spring Break filled up within four hours. 

 

Kaimana Brummel explains, “food security is not very secure. One disruption, one storm, one strike, or geopolitical event, and we will be scrambling. We see it now already with shortages of bread, milk, and even boxes due to the pandemic and shipping challenges. Unless we thoughtfully invest in local farmers and producers, we won’t be inconvenienced – we will be devastated.”

 

When asked what was the motivation to continue Kaukau 4 Keiki into fall break, winter break, and now spring break, Brummel answered, “The kids. One in five Maui County keiki experience food insecurity daily, and that number probably goes up when they don’t have access to school cafeterias. Quite simply, kids should not be hungry. K4K also serves a large group of families that fall into the ALICE category of being fully-employed but still income constrained–they don’t qualify for any other support and struggle to make ends meet. Because K4K is open to any keiki under 18, many ALICE families can receive support.” 

 

K4K in Maui, Molokai, and Lānaʻi works to serve the most rural communities, delivering boxes to Kahakuloa, Kahikinui, Keʻānae, and Hāna. Kaukau 4 Keiki in Maui County was made possible by Maui United Way, Nuestro Futuro Foundation, Sentry, dozens of farmers, Mahi Pono and Common Ground Collective, the Hāna Farmers Market, Sustʻāinable Molokai, 100 volunteers, and 60 delivery drivers. “K4K is a community effort,” Brummel said. “It takes over a hundred volunteers to distribute these boxes on three islands, and we always could use more help.” 

 

Despite strong support from child nutrition experts, Congress failed to extend school food waivers beyond June 2022. Without school food waivers that provide federal reimbursement for food purchasing, Kaukau 4 Keiki will need private funding to support their efforts to end the 2022 summer child hunger gap in Hawai’i. Learn more and donate to support Kaukau 4 Keiki in Maui County here.

 

HIPHI and the Maui Nui Food Alliance support the efforts of K4K to alleviate food access challenges for Maui County. For more information on the Maui Nui Food Alliance contact Lauren Nelson at laurennelson@hiphi.org.

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