Early Thanksgiving feast served to Maui homeless community

The Salvation Army and the University of Hawaii Maui College Culinary Arts Program provided 600 meals to the homeless, the hungry, anyone who wanted a free meal
Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 6:55 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 17, 2022 at 8:12 PM HST
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KAHULUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hundreds enjoyed a free Thanksgiving feast on Maui on Thursday as part of Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.

“We’re doing sous vide turkey, taro Portuguese sausage stuffing, garlic mashed potatoes, gravy, lilikoi cranberry sauce, candied Okinawan sweet potatoes, a marinated tomato salad, and a pumpkin crunch cake,” said Craig Omori, University of Hawaii Maui College Culinary Arts Program Coordinator.

The Salvation Army Kahului Corps and the University of Hawaii Maui College Culinary Arts Program provided 600 meals to the homeless, the hungry — anyone who wanted a free meal.

“We want them to know that they’re loved and that they’re wanted, and we want them to come and enjoy themselves,” said Capt. Steven Howard, The Salvation Army Maui County Coordinator.

“People either can’t have this kind of a meal because they don’t have extended family, or they just don’t have the means to have a Thanksgiving meal like this,” Howard added.

“We’re just so happy that we can put that together and provide that.”

The event takes place every year, but it was the first time having it in person since the pandemic.

“The best event I’ve actually been to in a while and I’m grateful it was free too,” said Kihei resident Shatay Kauhaahaa.

“It’s just nice to just see people out here doing this kind of thing … it’s a blessing for sure.”

Outside in the parking lot, more than 20 care providers, non-profit organizations and government agencies offered free resources and services to anyone who wanted it.

“Do we have homeless? Yes. Have we solved the problem? No. But we’re working on it and we’re trying to get there,” said Feed My Sheep Founder and Board President Joyce Kawakami.

The latest Homeless Point-In-Time Count shows Maui unsheltered are up from before.

Data collected on January 23, 2022 shows there were a total of 371 unsheltered individuals on Mai, compared to 346 in 2020. Data was not taken in 2021 because of the pandemic.

However, the numbers are down from 2019 where the count showed there were 402 unsheltered individuals and 424 unsheltered individuals in 2018.

Thursday’s events were part of a week-long, worldwide awareness campaign for hunger and homelessness.

Kawakami says the best way to help is to volunteer.