APN News

  • Saturday, December, 2023| Today's Market | Current Time: 09:03:59
  • By Dada Maheshvarananda and Steve Phillips

    The Lahaina fire that happened on August 8, 2023 burned over 2,200 structures, mostly homes. The death toll is about 115, with 388 missing and 95 percent of the fire area searched. Because tourism accounts for 40 percent of the island’s economy, thousands more people were suddenly out of work.

    Local Harvest was uniquely positioned to coordinate getting fresh food to the victims. With 10 employees, a huge warehouse and truck, Local Harvest was buying from 100 farmers on Maui 1.5 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables per year, about 30 percent of the total produce grown on the island. Their sales were $50-60,000 per week.

    When the fire struck, they immediately lost half of their sales because many customers were on the West side of the island where Lahaina is. Some clients were burned out while others closed due to no customers.

    Local Harvest immediately gave away all the produce they had to those in need. Hawaii Food Hub Hui provided funding, so Local Harvest was able to buy everything the farmers had, preventing the farms from any losses. Now most of the organizations feeding people in Lahaina are buying produce from Local Harvest: World Central Kitchen, Homeless Heroes Hawaii, Ohana Aid, Havens and Common Ground Collective. These organizations prepare more than 10,000 meals per day in total for those in need.

    By August 22, all the shelters had closed and the fire victims were transferred to hotels. On August 23, 10 pallets of produce was given to three different organizations, and $5,000 of produce was given away to individuals at a west side shopping plaza. Because World Central Kitchen has received so many donations, they are now paying Local Harvest for all the food they are giving away.

    Local Harvest believes that this food distribution program may continue for another two to three months. 


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