Kupu, University of Hawaiʻi Maui College Food Relief Partnership to support Maui fire survivors

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PC: Kupu and UHMC

Kupu, a youth-focused conservation and sustainability nonprofit, is mobilizing to support those affected by the recent Maui wildfire disaster. As the first step of this response, Kupu, in partnership with the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College Culinary Arts Program, will mobilize up to 30 UHMC culinary program students in paid positions that will prepare meals for community members impacted by the disaster.  

As part of this relief effort, UHMC culinary students will prepare 1,800-2,500 meals daily to feed Maui residents who have transitioned from emergency shelters to hotels and other temporary housing situations. The number of meals and residents served will adjust based on changing needs. For their time, UHMC culinary students will receive $16 an hour, a $1,459 Education Award provided by AmeriCorps, and access to health care benefits. 

“We are humbled by the opportunity to stand behind UHMC and its students to ensure that impacted residents are fed and supported during this difficult time,” said John Leong, CEO and Co-founder of Kupu. “It is an honor to use our capacity as a provider of internships, paid national service positions and green jobs to serve as the administrative backbone for this first step in the larger response effort.” 


Kupu has had a presence on Maui since its founding year in 2007, providing hundreds of Maui youth and young adults with opportunities to care for the environment and learn job skills in conservation and other sustainability-focused professions. During the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, Kupu’s emergency response included converting its educational facility into a food hub that provided over 100,000 meals to individuals and families in need in partnership with the Hawai‘i Department of Education.  

“Now more than ever, we need to be creative and thoughtful in order to respond to the needs of our community,” said UH Maui College Chancellor Lui Hokoana. “The partnership between Kupu and UHMC is doing just that by combining resources and purpose to feed people in need.”  

The first culinary and pastry arts program in the State of Hawai’i to be accredited by the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation Accrediting Commission, UHMC’s two-year associate degree curriculum is recognized as a leader in the field.


For more than 30 years, program graduates have taken their places – and made their marks – in the finest kitchens on Maui, in Hawai’i, and around the world. The program is housed in the Pā‘ina Building with 38,000 square feet of space over two stories.

There are two full kitchens, a skill labs kitchen, a full-scale bakeshop, The Leis Family Class Act fine dining restaurant, and a 275-seat food court. The students encounter real-life industry scenarios as they traverse through the program; the rest of the UHMC student body, staff, faculty and the community at large enjoy the fruits of the skills acquired along the students’ culinary paths.  

PC: Kupu and UHMC

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