Sust’āinable Molokaʻi's new food box program connects local farmers to kūpuna
A new food box program on Molokaʻi offers residents the opportunity to support kūpuna and local farmers at the same time.
Kupuna ‘Ai was recently launched by local nonprofit Sust’āinable Molokaʻi — and it’s seeing huge support in the community.
Residents can purchase a box of produce for $25 through Sust’āinable Molokaʻi's weekly Mobile Market. That’s an online marketplace that connects about 30 local farmers with Molokaʻi consumers, and facilitates the sales, packaging and quality of locally grown produce.
The food boxes are delivered at no cost to kūpuna, in collaboration with the Molokaʻi Rural Health Community Association which offers services to the elderly.
Boxes are filled with locally grown produce and food staples, selected for easy prep and manageable quantities.
The pandemic brought extra funding to feed those in need. But now that life is returning to normalcy, Sust’āinable Molokaʻi Food Hub Manager Niles James said this program helps fill the gaps into the future.
“We knew that as we got busy, everybody else was getting busier and we just wanted to make sure that we created a program that was able to take care of those that may be falling to the side," James said.
The program launched last month, and community members have already purchased nearly 70 boxes for donation. This month marked the first round of weekly distribution.
The Kupuna ‘Ai boxes also support Molokaʻi farmers and seek to boost food security for the island.
That goal is becoming increasingly important. Earlier this month, one of Molokaʻi’s twice-weekly barges couldn’t dock due to ocean conditions.
“That is why it’s so important to be able to take care of our kūpuna and take care of our farmers because that is going to bridge the gap of what real food security is, or sovereignty, and that is really what we need to do is build to the capacity that we can take care of ourselves because… when the boats don’t come in, like what happened this week, you’re really going to notice in the grocery store that there’s no food," James said.
By relying on community support rather than grants to fund the program, Sust’āinable Molokaʻi staff hope that the Kupuna ‘Ai boxes will be a gift that can, well, keep on giving.