Kupuna Life: A bountiful garden at Lunalilo Home is providing meals for kupuna

Kupuna Life

HONOLULU (KHON2) — On the windy, dry, lower slopes of Kohelepelepe, or Koko Crater, in East Oahu, this bountiful garden grows at Lunalilo Home which has been a home for kupuna for nearly a century.

“We’ve been very fortunate on the abundance that this mala has given us. Some have shared that yes, it is the kupuna from the past whose spirits are here with us,” said Iwalani AhQuin, who is the Director of Adult Daycare and Senior Activities.

“We were just graced by a donation from the Dawson company and HMSA foundation for creating these 12 garden beds, which we planted kalo, vegetables, fruits, squash and it’s been tremendously abundant,” Lunalilo Home CEO Diane Paloma. “Tammy Smith, our chef, has taken eggplant and squash from the garden, washed it off and put it into pinakbet and put it into pork and squash and a lot of our local favorite dishes.”

From farm to the 32 kupuna living here, and kupuna in the community for its long-standing meal delivery program in partnership with Hawaii meals on wheels. But now, since the pandemic and the closure of Lunalilo’s adult day-care services, its meal delivery has expanded, increasing 200 percent in just one month.

“So what started off with Hawaii meals on wheels as about 30 to 50 meals a day, we’re now looking at more like 100, 150 meals a day, and just yesterday we picked up another 300 meals a week from another community that was in need,” said Paloma.

Meals delivered to kupuna from Waimanalo to Kaimuki.

“OHA has been tremendous in funneling and helping us pay for the upfront costs such as food, the food supply chain, the packaging, and helping us out tremendously with the delivery of those meals for us,” said Paloma.

Delivery to many who were in Lunalilo Home’s Day Care program like Aunty Lydia.

“Every time we go and see her, she’s beaming, happy to see us, and always asking how are you doing, what are you guys doing and when are you gonna reopen because she’s eager to return,” said AhQuin.

Many meals are personalized according to the kupuna’s dietary needs, pureed, low sodium, diabetic. Some are free for those who qualify, others are paid for.

“It helps because then they don’t have to go out and shop and then they can know that it’s well nutritional to their diet order and they like it cause it reminds them when they were coming here,” said AhQuin. “They all want to return.”

Lunalilo Home too is hoping and planning for a possible reopening in July, while also continuing its successful service of meal deliveries, from garden to kupuna.

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