(BIVN) – The weekly Waimea Community Meal at the St. James Pavilion has changed things up a bit in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it still serving up fresh meals for hungry North Hawaiʻi residents with a drive-through service.
Lynn Beittel of Visionary Video provided video of a recent meal service, while organizers of the event shared this media release:
The Waimea Community Meal has resumed operations, after a one-week hiatus in March, and now provides free boxed meals and fresh produce as a drive-through service, every Thursday evening between 4.30pm and 6pm. Pick-up is in front of the church, so that waiting cars can use St. James’ Circle without backing up the highway.
The service is growing in popularity, as the community is growing in need. Co-Chair of the Meal, Tim Bostock, described; “When we started the drive-through at the end of March we served 224 meals. Last week we served 473 meals, and we anticipate the need will keep building. We miss the gathering in the Pavilion, and the live music, but we have a fun time car-hopping, and we have a lively playlist pumping from the PA. This is still a celebration of community!”
Many farmers are donating produce weekly, which is bagged and handed through car windows to the Meal guests. The Meal organizers are also buying more produce from local farmers, with the help of a small grant from Hawaii United Way. Puu Pale Ranch recently made a donation of a whole cow – bagged into burger meat – which presented a problem initially as there was little freezer space. Then Hawaii Preparatory Academy stepped in to offer its kitchen freezers, so the donation was gratefully accepted. Puu Pale Ranch owner Nick Vericella explained; “We wanted to help those in the community that are hurting most from loss of jobs, and we know the Community Meal reaches a lot of those folk. In this difficult time for all of us it feels like the right thing to do is to share.”
The Waimea Community Meal in turn, shared the beef donation with Big Island Giving Tree, who are distributing food to families in need in North Kohala.
St. James’ Episcopal Church hosts and underwrites the Community Meal, but since its Thrift Store has been closed it has significantly less income to cover the costs. The Meal Sponsorship program covers most expenses of the food, paper products and kitchen supplies, however the church covers the Meal Coordinator salary, health insurance and benefits, and pays for utilities and insurance. To help the church cover those costs, the Richard Smart Foundation and the Healy Foundation recently awarded grants to sustain them over the next six months. Tim Bostock beams: “We are overjoyed that we have received support that allows us to say that the Meal will continue, even as it grows. As the stay-at-home directive continues, it’s even more important to reach out and sustain needy families and individuals in our community.”
St. James’ Church serves as the home parish for St. Columba’s Episcopal Church in Paauilo, which is now the site for a new free Community Meal, served between 4.30 and 5.30pm on Tuesdays. The first week saw a dozen volunteers cook, box and serve to 160 drive through guests. Sue Dela Cruz, Community Meal Coordinator, exclaimed: “Thursday was always the best day of the week, making the Meal and serving at St. James’. Now we have two best days of the week, and we can serve folks in Paauilo too! And the best part of the day is ringing the church bell to start the service!”
The Waimea Community Meal and the Paauilo Community Meal are accepting donations through the St. James’ website, Business and individuals wanting to sponsor a particular Meal should contact Tim Bostock at email@example.com, or cell (808) 382-3290.