Christy Nishita describes the work that is being done to provide access to food for older, low-income adults.
Respond to immediate needs
“When the Honolulu Age-Appropriate City Action Plan was developed in 2015, no one could have anticipated COVID-19, home stay orders and the subsequent impact of older adults,” notes Nishita. “However, the plan does include the need for public contingency and disaster planning to accommodate older adults.”
When COVID-19 orders hit the city’s elders, Age-Friendly Honolulu supported the efforts of the Kupuna Food Security Coalition to ensure that Kupuna’s food needs were met [Hawaiian for older adults] were addressed. Going forward, the coalition will strengthen the community’s ability to prepare for, withstand, and recover quickly from food disruptions and accessibility disruptions such as natural disasters and other emergencies.
“The coalition is bringing together a diverse, cross-sectoral coalition of nearly 40 non-profit, government, private and municipal organizations (see the ‘Partner organizations’ box) to collectively meet the food needs of vulnerable Kupuna,” said Nishita, adding that the coalition is using data. driven approach to the study of geographic needs using definitions of poverty and “working poor”. From this the providers target and react to ensure access to food in these areas with high demand.
(The Hawaii Public Health Institute provides resources to the coalition and facilitates data sharing, collaboration, best practice sharing, volunteer recruitment, and capacity building to support food and service providers.)
The coalition has leveraged community partnerships, raised more than $ 1 million in donations and endowments, and used funds from the federal CARES Act to quickly and effectively deliver food and meals to vulnerable Kupuna across Oahu.
The service provider Lanakila Meals on Wheels estimates that before the pandemic, every sixth Kupuna was hungry every day. To date, the coalition members have provided more than 1.2 million meals and served up to 8,000 kupuna per week.