For Oahu’s elderly and disabled, weekly delivery of meals isn’t just about the food

Each week, the program needs about 150 volunteers to serve meals to some 1,000 recipients around Oahu.
Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 4:30 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 30, 2022 at 5:38 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Serving thousands of meals a week to Oahu’s elderly and disabled community is no small task. But with the help of volunteers, Lanakila Pacific’s Meals on Wheels program is able to do it year-round.

With the holidays here, they’re always grateful for extra help and donations to ensure kupuna are not forgotten.

“It’s really a pay-it-forward kind of experience. We really hope if we do a good job now, that when we get older and it’s our turn, that somebody will come along and take care of us,” Lanakila Meals on Wheels Director Lori Lau said.

Each week, the program needs about 150 volunteers to serve meals to some 1,000 recipients around Oahu. Their time and effort is meaningful to those who rely heavily on the program for both food — and a friendly smile.

“For many of our meal recipients, the volunteer might be the only individual they talk to that day or in that week,” Lau said.

“We consider ourselves to be more than a meal. We also offer a wellness check, and a bit of a friendly visit to let the meal recipient know they are cared for and thought of,” Lau said.

[Click here to donate to Lanakila Meals on Wheels]

Jessica Pippin and Mallorie Papin were first-time volunteer drivers.

“Kupuna, they’re not always getting out into the community. So I think when they do see somebody, they want to stop, they want to talk, they want to tell their story,” Pippin said.

“So I think it is important that they get this social interaction especially during the holiday times where not everyone’s family is close, so we get to be there for them.”

Meanwhile, Lau recalled one delivery several years ago.

“I went to somebody’s door, and I knocked, and I called. I could hear a TV on, so I knew that somebody was home,” Lau said.

She waited nearly 10 minutes before the door opened.

“It was a gentleman that was in a walker that was sort of shuffling along just 1 inch at a time. And I realized he’d spent all that time just trying to get to the door to receive his delivery,” she added.

She says that moment underscored the needs of those in our community, and why their efforts are so important. Each week, they’re going through hundreds of pounds of food, and heavily rely on donations and volunteers.

This year, they’re planning a special Christmas Eve delivery in which all of the recipients will receive a special gift.

If you would like to volunteer, click here for more information.