A line of cars filled the Courtyard by Marriott Oahu North Shore hotel parking lot in Laie as H&W Foodservice workers and volunteers loaded food into vehicles. The community sale on April 15 provided the community with pre-ordered wholesale groceries and fresh produce. They organizers plan to do the distribution every other Wednesday.
“People need something convenient, close and reasonable in price,” said Kaui Benson, a Laie resident. The Benson Family partnered with H&W Foodservice and used the hotel’s parking lot to serve the community. Benson saw the need in the community as she experienced the struggle of buying groceries in Honolulu.
Benson said she noticed the increase in food intake, having all her children home and staying indoors. She said she would normally buy bulk at Costco, but when people factor in gas money, long lines and wait times and sold-out essential items it poses problems for her family and others in the community.
“I needed to provide for my family. And I knew people out here [needed] to do the same thing, without having to travel so far and still be able to get the bulk items at a reasonable cost,” Benson said.
She added, “I’m trying to teach my kids how to bake because it’s cheaper than going out and buying bread and other items.”
Benson said pre-order forms are available every other Friday at the front desk of the Marriott and can be dropped off at the front desk when complete. An online form is also available on the Community Sale – Ha‘awi Facebook page. Both forms are due no later than Sunday at midnight for each wee Wednesday distribution.
Benson said the items would change week to week, but some will stay the same. She said those who did not pre-order can begin purchasing items from 2:45 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on the day of the event.
Laie resident Rangi TeHira volunteers at the Kahuku Farms tent. She said they are selling their products at a lower cost to support the community during the coronavirus pandemic. She said a bag of lettuce weighing close to one pound is $5 and cucumbers are $2 a bag.
“[Kahuku Farms] has been great; they even gave away free produce at the Laie North Stake on April 18. It’s great for them to participate in the community sale because it helps both them and the community,” Tehira explained.
Community members Genie Mataalii and her son, Nainoa Jenkins, sell for $25 a casemixed cases of banana and papaya grown in Kahuku. Mataalii said they pack the cases with a mix of ripe, almost ripe and green papayas for the preference of the customer.
Providing a service
Mataalii said she wasn’t a distributor before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, after buying from a local farmer in Kahuku, she noticed how he would go out every day and sell his produce around the island and how it took a toll on him. He asked her if she could help sell. “The rest was history,” she said.
She now distributes in Laie, Kahuku, and Hauula. “We learned from our parents and those before us how to take care of others. It all comes back to you,” she said.
Benson said she had been touched by others buying items to share with their neighbors and friends as well as community members offering to pick up for other people. “It’s been a huge blessing,” she added.
Benson’s children have been supportive and engaged in helping her. She said, “It has allowed me to teach my children how to serve and not expect anything in return ... They can be the Lord’s hand and show the love they have for the community.”
The community sale will continue to take place every other Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the parking lot of the hotel.
Online forms must be sent by email to email@example.com.
Papaya and banana recipes can be found here: