Millions of people across the country now know about the massive food relief effort mobilized at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College after it was featured on August 17 on Good Morning America (GMA). The ABC network show has been the top morning newscast in the United States for eight straight years, seen by an average of 3.8 million viewers daily.
GMA interviewed UH Maui College Chancellor Lui Hokoana and others during a special “Maui Strong” broadcast that also sought to raise funds for Maui’s recovery efforts.
UH Maui College culinary instructors, local chefs and hundreds of volunteers have been producing as many as 10,000 meals a day for displaced residents and first responders, since the deadly wildfires devastated Lahaina.
During his live interview on GMA, Hokoana said he opened UH Maui’s kitchens for the relief effort the day after Lahaina was devastated because it was, ”the right thing to do.”
“When you live on an island with limited resources, we’ve all got to collaborate so that we can get something big done,” Hokoana said, adding that they want to preserve the beauty of Maui ”for our families right now and for future generations.”
GMA also interviewed UH Maui College culinary program graduate Jose Antonio Rodriguez Gomez, who lived in Lahaina since he was seven.
“I was staying at my mom’s condominium, and unfortunately that building did burn down as well as my mom’s personal business she had for about 28 years,” Gomez said, “[UH Maui College] is a second home to me.”
UH Maui College alumnus and local celebrity chef Sheldon Simeon was among the first to volunteer at UH Maui College’s Paina building, which houses the college’s culinary program.
“As a chef, the first thing I wanted to do is like, ‘How can I help?’ I can cook,” Simeon told GMA. “This is a grassroots community effort to feed people that need to be fed—It’s a group of chefs and just community people making food, giving from their hearts and feeding our community.”
Oli provides strength, hope
As part of the GMA broadcast, faculty and staff also shared the oli (chant) Laukanaka. Hōkūlani Holt, director of the Kahokuala Program (to serve Native Hawaiian students), explained the meaning of the oli, which was composed by retired Hawaiian studies instructor Kiope Raymond.
“This particular oli was written by a professor at this college, and so he named it Laukanaka, which means numerous people, and it talks about how everyone that comes here will flourish and grow,” Holt said. “So we connect to this chant by saying we are the ones that come from this place called Maui.”
GMA reporter Whit Johnson noted the oli provides strength and hope. Later in the segment, he presented Hokoana and chefs Lee Anne Wong and Roy Yamaguchi with a check for $50,000 from King’s Hawaiian to be divided among the UH Foundationʻs Maui relief funds, Chef Hui and Kokua Restaurant Hospitality Fund.
For those who would like to help, UH Foundation has set up three funds. Go to uhfoundation.org/helpmaui. You can choose Help Students, Help Faculty/Staff and/or Help Feed Maui. 100% of your gift will directly support those in need.
University of Hawaii Maui College’s commercial kitchen is usually busy with culinary arts classes but it is now being used to prepare thousands of meals for local Maui shelters. @whitjohnson has more. #GMAMauiStrong— Good Morning America (@GMA) August 17, 2023
HOW TO HELP: https://t.co/pLSeQ1Uk1W pic.twitter.com/WaryVuIh6A