Last year, former Kaʻū High Athletic Director Kalei Namohala delivered the weekly Kaukau 4 Keiki during the summer school break. This year, there will be weekly pickup sites at Pāhala Hongwanji, Nāʻālehu Hongwanji and in Ocean View. Sign up by June 9. This year, Kaʻū High & Pāhala Elementary and Nāʻālehu Elementary will offer A Seamless Summer Option free summer breakfasts and lunches in the school cafeteria for all children 18 and under on weekdays. See more below. Photo by Julia Neal
REGISTER BY JUNE 9 IN KAʻŪ FOR KAUKAU 4 KEIKI Summer weekly food distribution. Kaukau 4 Keiki will begin the week of June 20 and end on July 29.
Kaukau 4 Keiki is a six-week summer program funded by the County of Hawai'i and administered by The Food Basket, Hawai'i Island's Food Bank.
Kaukau 4 Keiki will distribute $53 of food benefits per week (a $35 grocery gift card and an $18 value of Hawai'i grown produce) to help families with economic hardship. There will be a limit of one Kaukau 4 Keiki set per family. Registration deadline is Thursday, June 9 at 4 p.m. Grocery cards and produce will be distributed at Pāhala Resilience Food Hub at Pāhala Hongwanji, Nāʻālehu Hub at Nāʻālehu Hongwanji, and a TBD site in Ocean View. To apply, fill out the online application at https://www.hawaiifoodbasket.org/kaukau4keiki. Upon qualification, applicants will be selected on a first-come-first-serve basis. Selected applicants will be notified of their enrollment and weekly pick-up date and location by Thursday, June 16. Children must also be eligible for the Free or Reduced Lunch program To learn more and apply, visit https://www.hawaiifoodbasket.org/kaukau4keiki.
Fresh food from local farmers provided for Kaukau 4 Keiki last year at Nāʻālehu Hongwanji. The program returns this year with addition of Pāhala Hongwanji as a new hub for local farmers to bring their produce to be distributed during Kaukau 4 Keiki. A third hub will be in Ocean View. Photo by Katie Graham
FREE DAILY MEALS TO ANY CHILDREN AND YOUTH 18 years and younger will be served this summer at Nāʻālehu Elementary School and Kaʻū High & Pāhala Elementary. In Pāhala the meals will be served from June 6 through July 9. Served will be breakfast from 7:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. and lunch from 11:30 a.m. to noon on weekdays, with the exception of June 9, the King Kamehameha holiday. There will be no curbside distribution. A statement from Kaʻū High & Pāhala Elementary says, "All children, 18 years and younger, will be served meals at no charge. Meals must be consumed in the cafeteria." In Nāʻālehu, the meals will be served Tuesday, June 7 through Thursday, June 30, with breakfast from 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and lunches from 11:30 a.m. to noon, with the exception of Kamehameha Day. The program is called Seamless Summer Option and is sponsored by the USDA's National School Lunch Program. For questions call Pāhala at 808-313-4100 or Nāʻālehu at 808-323-4000.
The fare-free Hele-On service, the first of its kind in the state, is free through this Dec. 31 due to the agency receiving $4.5 million from the federal Coronavirus Response & Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act and $1,879,773 in American Rescue Plan Act funds from Federal Transit Administration by way of the Hawai’i Department of Transportation.
The funds are 100 percent federal with no local match necessary and are provided to help transit systems sustain their operations during the pandemic. "Upon receipt of the American Rescue Plan Act funds, the fare-free initiative should extend another year to December 31, 2024," says the statement from the county.
“We are extremely excited to offer this improved, efficient, and critical resource to our community at no
cost,” said Mayor Mitch Roth. “There are a myriad of issues contributing to a growing cost of living, so it is our hope that providing free transportation services to our residents will help alleviate some of that burden. We understand that Hele-On has had a bad rap in the past but would like to encourage our residents to try it out; they may be pleasantly surprised.”
The county statement says, "With Hele-On accessible to all, equity and improved access to sustainable public transit islandwide for county residents and visitors are now in effect." Hele-On is also using the funds to cover implementation of its new transit service network, which plans to increase public transit access in the Kaʻū, Hilo, Kailua-Kona, Waimea, Puna, and areas, with service scheduled or later in the day, more frequent service and added Sunday and Holiday services.
"The Master Plan is helping the County restore creditability in its public transit system and allow it to be an integral part of connecting people to jobs, education, social service, and quality of life while driving economic development."
John Andoh, Mass Transit Administrator & General Manager, said, “Higher ridership translates into increased Federal and State formula funding and creates a positive feedback loop for Hele-On to improve and grow the island’s mobility network." Providing fare-free transit "will allow those experiencing financial hardship not to worry about transportation expenses. The goal of implementing fare-free transit is also to rebuild ridership lost over the past ten years due to reliability issues of the transit system," says the county statement.
For more information about Hele-On, call (808) 961-8744, TDD: 711 through the relay service, email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit www.heleonbus.org or find Hele-On Bus on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube.