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Kūpuna Collective: Empowering Kūpuna with Access to Healthy Meals

Hawaiʻi is the most isolated populated landmass in the world, with 90% of its food imported, resulting in food costs that are 82% higher than the national average. Combined with a high cost of living and poverty rate, a compounding effect is created for already underserved populations. For kūpuna, factors like a fixed income, limited transportation, limited mobility, homebound status, and the lack of age-empowered support to access healthy food all contribute to food insecurity and poorer health outcomes.

Kūpuna Collective members Aloha Harvest (AH) and Waiʻanae Coast Comprehensive Health Center/ʻElepaio Social Services (ESS) are community leaders working to improve kūpuna food security as part of a project funded by the Community Development Block Grant by way of the City & County of Honolulu Elderly Affairs Division. Building on the collective impact made during the COVID-19 pandemic, AH and ESS are working alongside Community Health Workers to dually support kūpuna food security and local agriculture, improve awareness of and enrollment in SNAP, and link distribution efforts with wraparound health and social services. 

To date, AH and ESS have: 

  • Distributed over 18,000 meals and 225,000 food boxes;
  • Provided 540 phone reassurance services;
  • Performed 350 in-person wellness checks; and
  • Enrolled 35 individuals in SNAP. 

Kūpuna also participate in brain health check-ins and are linked with other health and social services.

Food insecurity, especially among kūpuna, is the accumulation of a lifetime of social vulnerability and disadvantage due to unjust systems and policies that disempower underserved groups. The Collective is honored to continue its efforts to implement policy, systems, and environmental change to ensure all kūpuna are linked with the healthy food and health supports they deserve. To learn more about the Kūpuna Collective, visit our website or email

Photos provided by Aloha Harvest and ʻElepaio Social Services.

Lindsey Ilagan, MS

Lindsey Ilagan, MS

Program Manager: Kūpuna Initiatives
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