The onset of COVID-19 in early March sparked a drastic need for meals across our islands. Seniors, in particular, continue to be the highest risk group and many are afraid to leave their homes, even for food items. Lanakila Pacific’s Meals on Wheels program was able to respond quickly due to its strong network of partnerships and community support. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Lanakila Meals on Wheels has provided more than 370,000 meals for O‘ahu seniors, including an additional 1,000 for kūpuna. The number continues to grow.
Yet amidst feeding our kūpuna during this critical time, Lanakila Meals on Wheels strives to be innovative in its quest to not only be there for our community in times of need, but to also remain resilient by expanding its services.
This summer, the nonprofit launched a new service that provides seniors with direct access to fresh produce from local farmers.
Here is what you need to know:
What is The Green Bag? The Green Bag is a monthly, paid subscription service. Each bag contains a selection of seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables, all locally sourced from farms in Hawai‘i.
Why is Lanakila Meals on Wheels offering this service? The health and wellness of kūpuna is our priority. While we deliver healthy and nutritious complete meals, the purpose of The Green Bag is to offer our kūpuna a convenient way to add more variety to their diets and to supplement their meals. As a meal provider and a part of Hawai‘i’s food chain, we also want to support local farming and agricultural industries. Moreover, The Green Bag creates jobs for individuals with disabilities who pack the produce bags.
Who is eligible to participate? The Green Bag program is available to the participants of Lanakila Meals on Wheels. As the program grows, it will be made available to more kūpuna.
How much does it cost? Depending on the individual’s situation, The Green Bag may cost between $14 and $28 for four weeks. We can also help kūpuna apply for federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits that may help pay for the cost. So far, kūpuna and their caregivers value the service because it reduces the need to go to the store for fresh food.
Are seniors able to choose the produce they receive each month? As we are only purchasing local produce, the variety will change with the seasons. Though we are unable to individually customize the assortment in each bag, feedback is welcome in order to let us know which fruits and vegetables are preferred.