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Hawai‘i Buddhist Monastery Celebrates Milestone with 75,000 Meals Donated


Honoka‘a Hongwanji Buddhist Temple, affiliated with the Jodo Shinshu school of Buddhism, celebrated giving out its 75,000th meal on 16 February. The temple’s Peace Committee has been offering weekly free meals to the community for five years, coordinated and run entirely by volunteers in the small town of Honoka‘a on the island of Hawai‘i. The program is called “Feeding Our Keiki and Kupuna” (Feeding Our Children and Ancestors).

The recipient of the 75,000th meal was Honoka‘a resident Pedro Sanches, who arrived to cheers from volunteers and the town’s mayor, Mitch Rothas.

“Every time the food here is so good. It’s so good for feeding community,” remarked Sanches, who can be seen at the temple food giveaway most Fridays. “I know everyone here and I’m in awe of how much work they’ve done. Years of feeding the community, never wavering.” (Island News)

The program was cofounded by Ravi Singh and Miles Okumura, who were inspired by the Sikh practice of langar, a tradition of providing free community meals to all people, regardless of faith, ability to pay, or ethnicity.


Remarking on the program, Singh said: “It brings joy to the minds and hearts of people who serve. They cook up meals; 50 or 60 of them get together and cook up meals and then they serve those meals to 400–500 people every week.” (Island News)

“I am very happy with what we’ve been able to accomplish in the last five years,” said Okumura, who is also the president of the board of directors at Honoka‘a Hongwanji Buddhist Temple. “I am especially grateful to our volunteers: 75,000 meals and each one is a labor of love. Honoka‘a is a small town, but if we can do it, so can other places. I am proud of our community and grateful for the more than 50 volunteers who help every week. The vast majority of them are from the community at large, and not members of our temple.” (Big Island Video News)

The program coordinates with local businesses, farmers, and produce providers to ensure plentiful food is available each week. Local chefs and restauranteurs have also offered their expertise.

Nicholas Newland, 17, a volunteer at the program, noted: “The most rewarding part I’ve had here at the Hongwanji is seeing the difference I make in the community.” (Island News)

The food is available each Friday from 4–5:30 p.m., provided by volunteers who join forces to create hot dinners and to distribute around 1,300–1,800 kilograms of groceries and produce to more than 200 families. They also do home deliveries to those in need and offer children’s books.  

The organizers plan to expand the program, aiming to add affordable medicines and housing. According to Okumura: “We are going to embark on an endowment program. We’re seeking a figure of about US$2 million, if we can get some large donors or a donor to make that kind of contribution.” (Island News)

See more

Honoka’a Hongwanji Buddhist Temple feeding program hits two milestones this month (Island News)
“Feeding our Keiki and Kupuna” (Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii)
75k Community Meals Served In Honokaʻa, And Counting (Big Island Video News)

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