Kupuna Life: Lanakila Meals on Wheels celebrates 50 years of helping seniors on Oahu

Kupuna Life

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Lanakila Meals on Wheels marked its 50th year anniversary ensuring no kupuna goes hungry. It is Oahu’s largest, oldest and only island-wide meal delivery service for seniors.

These services would not have been possible without other kupuna who also volunteer to help.

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David Chung, a volunteer for Lanakila Meals on Wheels, loads up his vehicle with bags of meals every week.

“My son was volunteering for five years before that and when his disability came on, we decided to work together,” Chung said.

Working together to deliver food to kupuna who cannot shop or prepare meals, the food drop-off also serves as a wellness check.

“And, sometimes, we do help them a little bit in other things, like taking their trash and checking on them,” Chung added.

Chung has been volunteering for Lanakila Meals on Wheels for the last five years.

“We want to make sure we take care of our kupuna and just make sure other people are well-provided for.”

David Chung, a volunteer for Lanakila Meals on Wheels

Lanakila Meals on Wheels started as a lunch wagon at Aala Park and has grown into a program that cooks, packages and delivers as many as 8,500 meals a week. Although the program’s staff is small, an army of volunteers helps, and the majority are kupuna.

“For many of the meal recipients, the volunteer might be the only person they see that day or all week so that friendly visit and wellness check they provide really makes a difference,” said Lori Lau, director of Lanakila Meals on Wheels.

The volunteers may also be the only person kupuna see over the holidays, like Thanksgiving when 1,200 meals will be delivered.

“So, we start preparing weeks in advance to get ready to do a full turkey spread with all the trimmings and pumpkin crunch for dessert,” Lau added.

Before the pandemic, there would be about 300 volunteers who would help. However, that number has been slashed in half during COVID. Still, many kupuna volunteers continue to give back to other kupuna who need the help or just a friend to talk to.

“It’s a great way to give back to the community, but also it’s very rewarding because helping another human being really makes your heart feel warm.”

David Chung, a volunteer for Lanakila Meals on Wheels

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“To all of the volunteers who have come through over the last 50 years, this is all because of the work that you guys did,” added Lau.

Lanakila Meals on Wheels is always looking for volunteers. Those who would like to help can contact them here. For more information and/or to sign up for this delivery service, click here.

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