In Hawaii, 1 in 5 children face the hardships of food insecurity—meaning these children live in households that do not have consistent access to enough food for all family members to lead an active, healthy lifestyle. And while a proper diet is surely important at all ages, when it comes to the issue of food insecurity, school-age children are one of the most at-risk populations.

During the school year, many low-income families can rely on state-funded free and reduced lunch programs to provide meals for their kids. But what happens when those children are home from school during the long summer break? Unfortunately, the harsh reality is that many of these children go hungry.  

This summer—for the fourth year in a row—Lanakila Kitchen is helping to close the hunger gap and keep our keiki fed and healthy. As a sponsor of the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)—a federal initiative to continue providing healthy meals to keiki during summer—Lanakila Kitchen is providing free nutritious meals and snacks to 30+ schools and community programs such as the YMCA, Boys & Girls Club, Palama Settlement, and Hawaii Literacy, to name a few.

“You know, we’re happy with the work we do here! Our keiki are such a vulnerable population who desperately need nutritious meals for their own growth and development. And we’re very honored to serve as that provider for our community,” says Lanakila Kitchen Manager, Junior Gabriel.  

Evidently, a huge part of the team’s motivation to serve stems from understanding the positive impact their work has on our community. Director of the Waianae Boys & Girls Club, Kristle Jury-Hale, excitedly shares,

“We have been blessed two summer intersessions in a row to have been allowed to partake in this program. The nutritional meals have been well-received by all our youth and parents. It’s given our youth access to new healthy things, so we are very grateful.”

Thanks to SFSP’s commitment to addressing food insecurity among Hawaii’s youth, our keiki don’t have to worry about where their next meal is going to come from during summer. Instead, they can simply focus on the joys of being a kid and race back to their water balloon fights, Crayola marker art projects, and haupia ice cream, before preparing for the next exciting year at school.

A social enterprise of Lanakila Pacific, Lanakila Kitchen provides job opportunities for individuals with disabilities and cooks up delicious meals and treats for catering, retailers, and Lanakila Meals on Wheels seniors. With help from our supporters, hundreds have received job training and meaningful employment.