In the spring of 2020, a flurry of concern quickly swept across these islands following the onset of an unprecedented global health threat: COVID-19. While many struggled adapting to the new realities brought by the pandemic, restaurant owners were hit particularly hard as the community at large became apprehensive of dining out. Similarly, seniors—many of whom feared leaving their homes, even to visit the grocery store—encountered a new challenge in safely obtaining food. This abrupt shift in demand left farmers unsure of what to do with their crops. Amidst the turmoil, sprouts The Green Bag, a Lanakila Meals on Wheels home delivery service of fresh fruits and vegetables, direct from local farmers.

This new subscription-based home delivery service of local produce was seamless on many fronts. For Lanakila Pacific’s social enterprise, Lanakila Kitchen, collaborating with island farmers to directly purchase crops was a natural solution. The Green Bag program allowed Lanakila Kitchen to not only support Hawaii’s agricultural industry and promote food sustainability, but also create new training and job opportunities in the foodservice department for individuals with disabilities.  

As for the Lanakila Meals on Wheels recipients, The Green Bag introduced an opportunity for them to access fresh whole foods delivered straight to their doors. The service became a convenient and safe way for kupuna to receive additional nutrition without leaving the comfort and protection of their homes. With local produce also being incorporated into complete meals prepared by Lanakila Kitchen, and delivered by Lanakila Meals on Wheels, seniors could live more healthily and independently during the uncertainty of this pandemic.

In its very first year, The Green Bag had more than 200 subscribers with over 32,400 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables distributed island-wide. Success! Fast forward to today, Lanakila Pacific has continued to build partnerships with several local farms and now has an even greater vision for the future. First, The Green Bag. Next, The Food Hub. Stay tuned…

“I’m eating better now with Meals on Wheels and the farmer’s market veggies. I’m so happy! I don’t have to go shopping as much.” – Edith