Maui extension program connects seniors and food trucks

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The Pastele House is one of the food trucks that are partnering with Maui Extension.

A creative program on Maui has found a way to bring grandfamilies (grandparents who are primary caregivers for their grandchildren) and food truck owners together to help each other during the COVID-19 crisis. The program was developed by the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources Intergenerational Extension Program on Maui.

Grandfamilies are especially vulnerable during this pandemic since they are considered a high-risk group and are often living on fixed incomes. At the same time, food truck owners, like most restaurateurs, have been hit hard by the coronavirus shutdown.

The Intergenerational Extension Program teamed up with UH Maui College, UH Foundation, Maui County Office on Aging, Maui Food Technology Center and Kamehameha Schools to bring food and education to grandfamilies and kūpuna in Maui County during the pandemic.

Owners of food trucks are coordinating with the Maui Food Technology Center to provide daily contactless delivery of prepared meals, from June to August, to participating families in the Intergenerational Extension programs GRANDcares, ʻOhana Garden & Grindz and Powerful Tools for Caregivers, as well as kūpuna who are registered with the Maui County Office on Aging.

The project served 186 meals to 62 individuals in 13 households in the first week alone. By the third week, it jumped to 350 meals.

The grandfamilies and other food truck customers also received educational materials developed by CTAHR extension faculty, including the Extension COVID-19 Communications Team. The materials covered topics such as: nutrition, food safety, cooking with keiki, dealing with kitchen waste, CSAs (community-supported agriculture), self-care, stress management and more.

The Maui County Office on Aging will match private support dollar for dollar, and hopes to expand the program. Kamehameha Schools’ Maui Regional Office was the first funder to generously donate to this initiative, followed by the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation. UH Maui College is also working to secure other potential funders. To donate to the project, email Extension Agent Heather Greenwood-Junkermeier.

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