Maui Fresh Streatery owner Kyle Kawakami has begun a “Pay It Forward” campaign to help provide free meals for federal employees and Coast Guard members who are currently not getting paid. The idea began on January 11 via social media, with the food truck owner posting his concerns about local families affected by the partial government shutdown.
“Because of this, we have created a ‘Pay It Forward’ board and jumpstarted it with five free meals. If you are a Federal worker missing pay, or just someone in need of a meal, grab a ticket and redeem it for something to eat,” Kawakami posts. “If you want to help contribute to the board, buy a ticket for a food item and help ‘Pay it Forward.’ We challenge others in our community to help! We are all on this beautiful island of Maui together and need to help each other out in times of need.”
Since then, the campaign has received an outpouring of support from residents and businesses. Maui Fresh Streatery even delivered meals to 50 workers at a time, including air traffic controllers, USDA inspectors, customs, wildlife other federal employees. You can see the progression of the outreach in this photo slideshow.
Known as “Big Red,” the food truck features locally-sourced ingredients and makes appearances throughout Central Maui, typically on Mondays in Maui Lani (either 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. or 5 to 7 p.m.), Wednesdays on Vineyard and Church Streets in Wailuku (11 a.m. to 1 p.m.) and Friday evenings at Ilima Shell station or Ultimate Air Maui ( 5 to 7 p.m.). Follow the business on social media  for details, and learn more about the food truck and its rotating menu of different cultural cuisine in our previous video, Maui Fresh Streatery: Gourmet Grab & Go .
Kawakami tells me the Pay It Forward campaign will keep going as long as it can sustain itself, and he is humbled by both the islandwide support and the gratitude of those receiving the meals.
“We will continue to support those in our community during these trying times,” Kawakami says, “Thank you all for helping us make Maui a place like no other. Sometime a smile, handshake and hot meal is all it takes to touch someone’s life.”