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Kōkua Restaurant & Hospitality Fund raises $1.22 million to support fire-impacted workers : Maui Now


Roughly 1,200 restaurant, bar and hospitality workers have received $1,000 disbursements from the Kōkua Restaurant & Hospitality Fund since August 2023. Fundraising efforts for Maui fire survivors come to a close at the end of April, according to the Hawaiʻi Ag & Culinary Alliance. PC: Courtesy of the HACA

Approximately 1,200 restaurant, bar and hospitality workers have received one-time $1,000 disbursements from the Kōkua Restaurant & Hospitality Fund, according to an announcement from the Hawaiʻi Ag & Culinary Alliance.

Overall, more than $1.22 million was raised to help workers who experienced lost jobs or income in the wake of the economic downturn caused by the August Maui wildfires, the alliance said. Contributions came from more than 950 donors spanning nearly all 50 states and eight countries. The fund was originally established as emergency relief for workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to its announcement, the alliance “has been unwavering in its commitment to ensure that every dollar of the donations received are directly channeled to those affected by the fires — no administrative fees are incurred . . . The one-time $1,000 disbursement to each individual offers tangible assistance in their journey to rebuild during a time of uncertainty and hardship.”


Hawai‘i Ag & Culinary Alliance Chief Executive Officer Denise Yamaguchi said: “The impact of the Kōkua Restaurant & Hospitality Fund would not have been possible without the incredible outpouring of support from the global community — our Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival chefs, partners and hospitality industry at large. This widespread solidarity underscores the strength and unity that defines our culinary family.”

Hospitality leaders such as the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and Private Label Collection’s Jonathan McManus have also played a significant role in the success of the initiative, according to the announcement. A recent fundraiser held at Hotel Wailea, Relais & Châteaux, in collaboration with renowned three-Michelin-starred chef Thomas Keller of The French Laundry took the Kōkua Restaurant and Hospitality Fund’s total to more than $1,220,000.

“The Hotel Wailea culinary team was thrilled to host a collaboration series with iconic three Michelin star The French Laundry restaurant from Napa for the very first time to benefit our Maui ‘ohana,” said McManus, founder of Hotel Wailea and Private Label Collection. “We are honored, along with Chef Thomas Keller, to play a part in helping the Kōkua Restaurant & Hospitality Fund meet its fundraising goals to assist West Maui.”


As the Kōkua Restaurant & Hospitality Fund’s Maui relief efforts come to a close next month, donations will continue to be accepted until April 30. Additional funding will help workers who were wait-listed.

For more information on the Kōkua Restaurant & Hospitality Fund for Maui, or to donate, visit www.HFWF.me/kokua. The Hawai‘i Ag & Culinary Alliance, doing business as Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival, is a nonprofit organization (EIN 46-0618609). Contributions are tax-deductible.

Source: Maui News

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