MEO receives $150,000 OHA award for fresh food program

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August 27, 2021

Maui Economic Opportunity, Inc., today announced receiving a $150,000 award for a fresh food voucher program that will support the Native Hawaiian community through the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) COVID-19 Impact and Response Grant.

‘Ai Hua will help to reinforce and strengthen Native Hawaiians’ ʻohana and the health of the lāhui.

With the $150,000 OHA award, MEO will provide vouchers to Native Hawaiian families who were affected by COVID-19 that can be used at local farmers markets to purchase local fresh fruits, vegetables and protein foods. The program will benefit both the Native Hawaiian families who receive the vouchers for the produce, and the local farmers who grow the products for the farmers’ markets.

The program period is for one year, beginning Nov. 1.

“MEO welcomes the opportunity to work with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to bring fresh fruits, vegetables and proteins to the Native Hawaiian community,” said Debbie Cabebe, MEO CEO. “This program is patterned after our successful Seniors Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program for kupuna and offers the opportunity for MEO to extend its reach to the Native Hawaiian community in partnership with OHA.

“ ‘Ai Hua is a win-win for Native Hawaiians, who will receive coupons to purchase fresh food that can sometimes be outside the budgets of some ohana, and for sustainability and agriculture in Maui County. We thank OHA for allowing MEO to further our mission of Helping People. Changing Lives.”

The purpose of the ‘Ai Hua program is to serve the Native Hawaiian lāhui in alignment with the strategic foundations, directions and outcomes of the 15 year Mana I Mauli Ola Strategic Plan. This project is sponsored by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, working to improve the lives of Native Hawaiians.

For more information about the program, contact the MEO Community Services department at (808) 249-2970.

*About OHA’s Grants Program*

OHA’s Grants Program supports nonprofit organizations whose projects and programs serve the Native Hawaiian community and align with OHA’s Strategic Plan. For more information about the Grants Program, please visit oha.org/grants.

Maui Economic Opportunity, Inc., is a nonprofit agency that’s part of the national Community Action Partnership network, whose goal is to help low income individuals and families and disenfranchised people help themselves and transform their lives. Chartered in 1965, MEO offers programs that assist low income people, kupuna, youths, persons with disabilities, immigrants and other disenfranchised groups. MEO runs the Maui Bus paratransit system and Head Start preschools, as well as kupuna advisory and socialization; youth anti-drinking, -bullying and -suicide; rent, mortgage and utility assistance; entrepreneurial and financial basics; and inmate reintegration programs. For more information, please visit meoinc.org.

Established by the state Constitutional Convention in 1978, OHA is a semi-autonomous state agency mandated to better the conditions of Native Hawaiians. Guided by a board of nine publicly elected trustees, OHA fulfills its mandate through advocacy, research, community engagement, land management and the funding of community programs. Learn more at oha.org.

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