HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Boys and Girls Club of the Big Island has been known for its after school programs.
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However, when COVID-19 arrived in the islands, causing schools to close up classrooms, the organization had to switch its purpose.
“When the pandemic hit, no school for many kids means no school lunch,” said Chad Cabral, the CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of the Big Island.
Cabral said the biggest challenge, especially for families that live in remote areas, is transportation.
“The schools can provide meals, but if kids aren’t able to access transportation, they are not going to be able to receive meals,” Cabral explained.
So Cabral decided the Boys and Girls Club of the Big Island could help make sure kids were fed.
“We are actually in some communities delivering meals door-to-door to kids, to families, to kupuna that really need us the most at this time,” Cabral said about the organizations hot meals program.
The organization began making hot meals during the day and delivering them directly to families and keiki in need each afternoon.
Brynn Alcain, the Vice Principal of Ka’u High and Pahala Elementary, said that many of the students who live in Ocean View don’t have a way of picking the Department of Education’s free breakfast and lunch.
“For any Ka’u student, they can either get food in Pahala or Na’alehu, but there’s nothing in Ocean View. So a lot of our population at Ka’u High and Pahala Elementary School, they’re coming from the Ocean View area, they’re unable to receive their free meals, their free breakfast or lunch,” Alcain explained.
Alcain said it is an added bonus that students love the food.
“The kids actually love the taste of the Boys and Girls Club meals. It’s ‘mo’ betta’ they say, ‘mo’ betta’ than the cafeteria food,” Alcain said.
Doug Adams is a board member for the Boys and Girls Club of the Big Island. He drives from Hilo to Ka’u and back once a week to deliver meals.
Adams said families who receive the meals are grateful beyond words.
“The folks at Ka’u High, I have an opportunity to see them, and they’re always very friendly, and very happy, and just thankful, lots of gratitude,” Adam said.
Senator Kai Kahele said the program has helped a lot of Big Island residents get through these tough times.
“So many people are just barely making ends meet, and if there’s one thing that can bring people a little bit of joy, put a smile on their face, whether it’s from our kupuna, all the way down to our keiki, it’s having a fresh, healthy, hot meal at the end of that day,” Kahele said.
Cabral said that the organization plans on continuing the program for as long as possible.
To keep the program going, Cabral said the organization relies on donations. Click here to donate.