Restaurants will provide a special dinner menu during this fundraiser.
Courtesy The Good Table
Their stories are stirring, at times disturbing, yet all ring of gratitude. Some are ambulatory while others are not. They live in place … but just barely. Speaking with enrollees in Lanakila Pacific’s Meals on Wheels program is to hear heartbreaking tales of loneliness and undernourished kupuna, many of whom admit that they would be eating a lot less and forced to stretch out their meals.
“It’s important that our kupuna have access to nutritional meals,” says Noelle Kahanu, whose mom Diane used to receive the weekly meal deliveries before she entered a private homecare facility. “But just as important is the human contact. Many of the people who receive these meals are shut-ins and they need that social interaction — the chance to talk story. In my mom’s case, the volunteer would regularly call to check up on her.”
As the baby boomer generation enters the ranks of the elderly, state projections forecast that the number of Hawai‘i residents 65 years and older will spike by 81 percent between now and 2030. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 State and County Population Characteristics, our graying demographic already accounts for 16.5 percent of the islands’ total population, growing from 195,138 on April 1, 2010 to 236,914 on July 1, 2015, an average annual growth rate of 3.8 percent, which is four times faster than the total population. And many of our elders are on low fixed incomes and reliant on the Meals on Wheels program.
“I now have a calabash aunt who started receiving meals just a month ago,” Kahanu says. “Many seniors are not capable of going to the store to pick up a carton of milk or loaf of bread. So it’s good to know that this program exists.”
In 1971, long before the food truck craze of today, there was a lunch wagon that once circled Aʻala Park, serving hot meals to seniors who were hungry and suffering from tuberculosis. As word spread about the truck, so did the need. Volunteers provided what would be for many kupuna their only meal of the day and their only connection to the community.
Today, like other nonprofits, Lanakila relies on signature fundraisers to help directly support its programs and services. Now in its eighth year, The Good Table is a synchronized and interactive gastronomic event that helps raise money for Lanakila’s Meals on Wheels program, which delivers about 260,000 repasts a year to seniors and the homebound who often live alone on a fixed monthly income of $1,000 or less.
“One night. One meal. Thousands of lives,” smiles Meals on Wheels volunteer John Leslie Miller, reciting The Good Table’s motto. “Help turn one great meal into many.”
The Good Table
An islandwide fundraiser for Lanakila Pacific’s Meals on Wheels
A comprehensive list of participating restaurants and detailed information can be found online at thegoodtablehawaii.org; or call 531.0555