As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, we are reminded of the grassroots community project started to reduce hunger during Covid-19 and beyond. Co-founded by Brad Kukral and Steven Calkins, the Hungry Homeless Heroes Hawaii (HHHH) uses quality excess food to fill the stomachs and hearts of Maui’s hungry rather than the landfills. Kukral and Calkins set up a food redistribution organization that receives food from community members and farms with surplus, besides growing their own food at Anuhea Chapel in Pukalani. Additionally, they have put together an all-volunteer team who garden, prepare nourishing meals and personally deliver them to the unsheltered on Maui.
In the midst of the pandemic, Kukral witnessed a homeless man get into trouble while trying to obtain food from a local grocery store. “This incident was the impetus of the project,” he explained. “The man was hungry and just wanted to eat, and was begging for help. So, the next day my friend Steven and I decided to cook and distribute meals. The operation increased literally overnight.”
Kukral continued, “The pandemic impacted the unsheltered community in its own unique way in terms of limited restroom facilities, the inability to comply with stay-at-home orders, and difficulties obtaining food. Through a Facebook network on Maui, we were able to collect donations and supplies. As the program grew, so did the area of response. Volunteers and donations rolled in from a variety of area businesses, organizations, and private citizens.”
Currently, the program can produce as many as 200 meals a day. However, a main ingredient that the homeless need is the feeling of not being abandoned. Kindness is as appreciated as food. “HHHH works with compassion to bring hope to the hopeless,” Calkins said. “Our future vision would be to take another step toward a permanent solution by galvanizing the community around this most dire issue. Ideally, we would like to find a self-sustaining property where families could come on a work-trade basis.”
In the meantime, the HHHH purpose is to feed the hungry with hope, one meal at a time. The staff have been mindful of sustainability and work to create an environment that recognizes, validates and enhances the dignity of everyone experiencing homelessness.
Leslie Wilkins, MEDB, President and CEO
MEDB applauds all those in the community who serve to make sure no one goes hungry. We wish a Happy Thanksgiving to all.