Kōkua Kaiāulu: Keeping the Native Hawaiian Community in Waimānalo Fed

  • Ilima Ho-Lastimosa
  • LeShay Keli‘iholokai
  • Kaua Kassebeer
  • Hae Kassebeer
  • Joseph Awa Kamai
  • Ikaika Rogerson
  • Kenneth Ho Jr.
  • Manahā Ho
  • Kamalei Ho
  • Kirk Deitschman
  • Denise Ka‘a‘a
  • Theodore Radovich
  • Jane Chung-Do University of Hawai'i
Keywords: food, COVID, Native Hawaiians, Hawai'i, food security, community organizing


Recent data suggest that similar to other minority communities in the US, Native Hawaiians are more likely to contract and suffer from COVID-19, exacerbating health and social disparities. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to significant disruptions in employment and economic insecurity, both of which are intertwined with food insecurity. This paper describes the efforts of Ke Kula Nui O Waimānalo, a grassroots Native Hawaiian organization, to meet both the immediate and long-term needs related to food insecurity in the Waimānalo community. Numerous organizations from multiple sectors collaborated to provide over 24,000 prepared healthy meals and 3,550 fresh produce boxes as well as seeds and plant starters to over 6,500 Waimānalo families and community members who are vulnerable to food insecurity. In addition to meeting the immediate needs of the community, community resilience is being built by creating permanent areas of food sources in the community to teach community members a variety of ways of growing their own food. Using a land-based and community-driven approach, Native Hawaiian worldview of health and healing need to be the foundation of promoting health and resilience in Native Hawaiian communities.


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