Our Islands, Our Future

Kyle Kawakami, Maui-born 2019 Chef of the Year, is continuously thinking of ways to help his Maui community. His philanthropy is endless. He is well known for placing an Aloha tip jar on the counter of his Maui Fresh Streatery Food Truck to help raise funds for those in need. Whether it is individuals or nonprofits, his gifts have totaled over $50,000. “The Pay it Forward program translates as Aloha Spirit,” Kawakami said. “We as a community need to come together during these times to support each other. Without compassion and caring for our kupuna, our neighbors, our friends, and our ohana we have nothing. It is what separates us from the rest of the world─ what makes us Hawaii.”

Kawakami is assisting the community in numerous ways. “First, we are using our location as a food hub to help local farmers and fish purveyors sell their harvests that are currently not moving,” he said. “Our first food hub was with Okoa Farms. They dropped off 20 boxes filled with a farmer’s choice of produce, which we sold for them, giving 100 percent of the proceeds back to the farm.”

Another community assistance program Kawakami implemented is Kokua Meals. Customers are able to make donations to purchase meals for families in need, children that normally receive free or subsidized lunches, socially isolated seniors, and others. “Today,” he said, “we had volunteers deliver 45 meals to those in the community, along with other donated food products such as fresh bread and sausage.”

Additionally, Kawakami changed his Maui Fresh Streatery service to address the current pandemic situation that we are in. “At this time, we have implemented a Zero Contact Service,” he explained. “Meals are cooked, packaged, and labeled. The zero contact comes upon pickup. Customers remain in their cars. When it is their turn to order we give an alcohol wipe to sanitize their hands and take payment. The food is placed on a table near the car for the customer to claim. Then, we sanitize the table for the next order. We will get through this together!”

Our Aloha tip jar is currently being used to assist with the Kokua Meals through our Pay it Forward program. You can’t shut down Aloha!

Kyle Kawakami, Maui Fresh Streatery Food Truck, Chef/Owner