HFIA Members Supporting Maui

In times of crisis those who are not directly impacted often wonder: What can we do? How can we help? For HFIA Members the answer can be simple, send food. In the aftermath of the tragic fires in Lahaina our members sprang into action in a wide range of ways, first and foremost ensuring that people who had been affected by the fires had access to food and water.


Chad Buck, CEO of HFA, is a senior advisor to Governor Green and they were communicating about the fire before daylight on August 9th. By then it was already clear that they would need to mobilize and move aid to Lahaina as soon as possible. HFA immediately embedded with Mayor Bissen and Maui County Emergency Operation Command while HFA Maui operations loaded trucks with food, water, and aid and headed into Lahaina while the fire still burned.

The first loads rolled into west Maui that afternoon at 2:55PM and the first distribution center was set up near the receiving area at the Ritz Carlton in Kapalua since it was a safe distance from the active fires and the movement of smoke and ash. During the Lahaina blockade HFA worked with the Maui Police Department who escorted truck convoys through the blockade to expedite the movement of aid to those in need.

In recent years HFA has been involved in providing assistance after many of our state’s crisis, but Chad described what made the Maui fires different. “While we served through hurricane Iselle, floods, landslides, and the pandemic, nothing we have witnessed or supported in the past comes close to the Maui wildfires. The level of devastation and loss of life that took place in a matter of hours was difficult if not impossible to get your head around. We were connected to staff members from multiple rescue crews across Lahaina, so we continued to witness and hear about the heart-breaking stories of death, destruction and loss.”

Chad shared the personal impact this tragedy has had on his employees, and their dedication to serving their community even in the wake of tremendous personal loss. “We have five staff members on our Maui Team who lost their family homes in the fires. All five showed up for work the morning after. One of our staff members showed up in his socks because that is how he ran out of his house before his home was engulfed in flames. All five team members showed up because they knew that there was an enormous need for support in the communities of west Maui and upcountry and they knew that HFA would be the one delivering and coordinating aid across the island.”

As the response and recovery moves forward HFA has continued to provide their expertise. On week three, the State and Maui County secured the former Safeway and former Lowe’s facilities in Kahului to use for a distribution center and warehouse for supplies coming in to aid Maui. HFA’s operations and engineering teams cleared, prepped, and set up both locations with the necessary equipment to run operationally and handle the large amount of goods coming in. Chad talked about the scale of their mobilization into the impacted areas, “As of today, we have made over 1,300 trucking moves from the west coast to Hawaiʻi and across all islands to expedite aid into Maui.” Many of the mainland organizations and donors moved their truckloads of goods through HFA Long Beach for consolidation into ocean containers to move their donations from the west coast to Maui. Today and for the foreseeable future, HFA continues to operate as the logistics arm for state and county as they support the various distribution sites across Maui.

Prior to the fires, Chad and other stakeholders planned a Disaster Preparedness Summit, which was initially scheduled to take place at the Governor’s Office in September, but is being rescheduled for early 2024. The timing of the Summit was planned to coincide with the release of the documentary Preparing for Disaster in the Age of Climate Change & Sea Rise, co-produced by Chad Buck and Hugh Gentry of KITV. Chad recommends that anyone interested in learning about the efforts check out the documentary.

When asked his thoughts on how to best support Maui now, Chad offered the following advice “As Maui continues opening up to tourism, I encourage local people from other islands to visit and support Maui. There are thousands of families who have a family member or two who have lost their jobs and are in danger of defaulting on their mortgages. Maui will continue to need support from all neighboring islands as they move forward.”


Across the state 1 in 6 Hawai‘i residents struggle with hunger every day. With the wildfires thousands of households were displaced causing many more families to lose their consistent access to safe, healthy food. In order to meet this need Hawai‘i Foodbank has been working collaboratively with the Maui Food Bank to provide support to those impacted by the wildfires while continuing to address the ongoing food assistance needs across the state. When the fires struck, the Maui Food Bank immediately sprang into action working to provide food at several new distribution points and shelters. The Hawaiʻi Foodbank immediately stepped up to provide much needed support. Preparing emergency food and supplies to send to Maui was a crucial first step.

In addition to food the Hawaiʻi Foodbank has also been providing much needed staffing and logistical support. Between two and six Hawaiʻi Foodbank team members have been sent to Maui each week, and other team members are assisting remotely. The Hawaiʻi Foodbank team has been working with local and national companies to source needed food items for Maui distribution while managing the tremendous amount of food donations provided locally and nationally.

They have secured additional warehouse space to store all products donated for Maui, and will continue to send regular shipments of food, depending on what is needed. More than a dozen containers have been received already, and another 40-plus containers are in the pipeline.

Across the continent other sister food banks have stepped in with various forms of support. Feeding America, Central California Food Bank, Find Food Bank, Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County, Alameda County Community Food Bank, Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, Second Harvest of the Greater Valley, Feeding San Diego, Food Bank of Santa Barbara County, Second Harvest Silicon Valley, San Diego Food Bank, San Francisco-Marin Food Bank, Redwood Empire Food Bank, and others have generously provided emergency food donations, staff support and more. Additionally, many of these food banks have offered cross-docking services, an efficient logistics strategy that saves money, reduces shipping time and maintains freshness of food.

The Hawaiʻi Foodbank continues partnering with Maui County to provide food and technical assistance for their Maui-facilitated distribution sites in Kahului and Kahana offering food, water and supplies to people who have been impacted by the wildfires.


The fact that our state is made up of islands can make disaster response challenging. The fact that many of our towns are coastal communities linked by only one or two roads can make disaster management extremely challenging. When news of the fire broke, Kit Okimoto realized that some of the most accessible food to Lahaina might not be on Maui at all, but rather at Okimoto Corp.’s Friendly Market Center on Molokai.

Despite the proximity, Kit immediately ran into a problem, “I asked the shippers and there was no system in place to get large quantities of food off Molokai and over to Maui, it’s basically reverse logistics.” Of course that did not stop the Friendly Market Center team and the Molokai community from finding a way to help. Soon a system was in place that involved private boats taking donated food and supplies from Molokai and delivering directly to the beaches just outside of Lahaina.

There were some difficult decisions to make. Private boats and jetskis dropping supplies on the beach is not an official means of distributing aid, but it was clear that was the most effective method available to transport the goods provided by the Molokai community and businesses. The Friendly Market Center team also had to make a tough call about whether or not to let the last of the bottled water go over to Maui. Kit recalls how his staff made the decision, “They said, ʻOur faucets work, theirs don’t.’ So, we sent over the last few pallets of water.”

Okimoto Corp. kept working to get aid from their Waianae Store warehouse to Maui through more official channels as well, including the Hawaii Foodbank. The first barge with donations eventually made it to Kihei, but took several days longer than the community created donation fleet.


Minit Stop/ Ohan Fuels has locations on Maui and the Big Island in several of the areas that were hit hardest by the fires. From the very beginning Their dedicated employees found ways to serve first responders and their community as they dealt with the crisis.

When the first fire started in Upcountry Maui on August 7 the Makawao and Pukalani locations thankfully did not have to be evacuated. Foodservice Manager Tanya Doyle, took the opportunity to organize and provide 30 meals from the Makawao Store to the firefighters and other first responders who were battling the fire.

On August 8, 2023, multiple wildfires erupted on the Big Island, leading to a mandatory evacuation order. Road access to Minit Stop Kawaihae was cut off. In response, shift manager Eric Federizo transported food to the first responders battling the blaze. According to Racye Kaaua from the highways division helping with the fire, the provided food managed to feed everyone who was helping fight the fire.

In Lahaina on August 8 power went out in the morning, and many businesses made the decision to close for the day. Despite being unable to pump fuel or prepare hot food, Sheila Bueno, district manager, and Emily De Gracia, store manager, chose to keep the local Minit Stop open. They were motivated by the continuous stream of community members expressing gratitude for providing access to food and drinks. They eventually had to close at 3:30 PM, and just an hour later, an evacuation order was issued. Thankfully, all the employees are safe.

On August 9, 2023, with the Upcountry Maui and Lahaina fires still uncontained, another wildfire was threatening Kihei. Kahaiu Freitas and Michelle Mercer from HQ were dispatched to aid the store and allow employees to evacuate their homes, which were in the fire’s path. As the fire escalated and smoke encroached, it was decided to close the store. Thankfully, the fire didn’t progress further, sparing homes from harm. Later, the store reopened to prepare food donations for first responders.

Since the fires the Minit Stop/ Ohana Fuels leadership team has focused on their team members’ welfare. Samuel Howarth, Human Resource Director, guided affected employees through the process of securing temporary shelter and registering with FEMA and other essential agencies. Meanwhile, Antoinette Palisbo, Minit Stop Safety Manager, orchestrated the provision of supply kits to ensure their employees’ immediate needs were met.

Minit Stop’s parent company, Saltchuk, in collaboration with the wider Saltchuk family of businesses, rallied together to mobilize financial support for their staff members’ recovery. They raised over $130,000. All funds were distributed to those impacted. This effort extended not only to those directly affected but also encompassed employees whose immediate family members faced the impact of this unfortunate event.

On August 12 Kimo Haynes, company President, confirmed that Minit Stop/Ohana Fuels in Lahaina was unharmed. With fuel being crucial for the community, Kimo mobilized leadership to reopen the fuel station. Estefano Ferrari, Facilities Director, secured a generator while Garrett Glassen, IT Director, arranged for a Starlink system to provide Satellite Internet.

Minit Stop Lahaina resumed fuel operations on August 12, thanks to the dedicated efforts of the resilient Minit Stop/Ohana Fuels team, including employees affected by the fires, and the invaluable support of MEMA (Maui Emergency Management Agency) volunteers. Over four days, Minit Stop provided 1,450 fills, offering $20 free fuel to those in need. Residents with means chose to purchase fuel, leaving the free supply for their neighbors, showing remarkable generosity.

In the following month, Minit Stop extended complimentary drinks and snacks to first responders, including fire, police, sheriff, and national guard personnel stationed in the area. To meet the community needs, their Lahaina team prepared food in Kahului and delivered food to Lahaina daily. This continues today as they await water restrictions to be lifted.

Greg Cabantin, Minit Stop General Manager, spoke about their role in the recovery in their communities, “We recognize this is going to be a long and complicated recovery. Maui is our home and we continue to support the community. In addition to a generous donation to the Hawaii Community Foundation, Hawaii Petroleum, Ohana Fuels, and Minit Stop continues to support grass roots organizations, like Ikaika Ohana, Honokawai Relief, and others, with donations of food and fuel.”


Foodland customers statewide responded immediately to requests for help after the Maui wildfires. Prior to August, Foodland had set up a program called “Together We Give” in honor of Foodland’s 75th anniversary to support a few non-profit organizations with missions that are important to the company’s founders.

Foodland encouraged customers to join them in supporting these organizations at checkout in June, July and August. One of the organizations that Foodland was already supporting in August was the American Red Cross of Hawaii. When the fires happened Foodland immediately reached out to the Red Cross to ask if it would be possible to designate all donations to their Red Cross Maui relief efforts. Once they agreed Foodland encouraged customers to join them to help, and they were amazed by the overwhelming response.

By the end of the month, Foodland customers donations together with Foodland’s gift, meant that more than $244,000 had been raised for the American Red Cross of Hawaii to help those impacted on Maui. In addition, Foodland also designed and sold “Kako’o Maui” and “Rise up for Maui” t-shirts at all stores so that proceeds from the sales of these shirts could further their support for Maui.


Leadership at Waialua Fresh Egg Farm recognized that a disaster of this magnitude would create a large scale need for food in the present, and into the future. Right away they began looking into the quickest way to get eggs to Maui. They worked with Aloha Harvest to deliver initial donation of eight pallets of eggs, 7200 dozen to Maui by August 14th.

Then the longer term planning began. Before sending additional donations Waialua fresh coordinated with food hubs on Maui to ensure that those who would receive, store, and distribute the eggs had power restored and could handle the donations. Once all the details were nailed down Waialua Fresh Egg Farm was able to send their second donation of 20 pallets, 18,000 dozen eggs, a month later on September 14. This second shipment went through Hawaiʻi Foodbank and Waialua Fresh continues to work with them to coordinate weekly donations. Jon Kato, of Waialua Fresh Egg Farm commented on their long term commitment to providing support, “We will continue to provide support to the communities affected on Maui for years to come.


On September 27, 2023, Safeway announced that more than $1 million has been donated to disaster relief efforts aiding people and communities affected by the Maui fires, courtesy of a fundraising campaign supported by customers and employees. Through an in-store fundraising effort in August, Safeway stores raised money to assist various non-profit organizations with the goal of providing meals to those impacted. Donations were collected at check stands at
Safeway stores in Hawaii and the mainland. The money raised supports hunger relief efforts through the Maui Food Bank, Hawaii Foodbank, the Salvation Army, Boys and Girls Club Maui, and Red Cross Hawaii. The Safeway Foundation matched the first $100,000 donated by customers.

“We are grateful for the generosity of our customers and inspiring teamwork of our employees to assist the Lahaina community,” said Clayton Eto, Safeway’s Hawaii District Manager. “We are committed to continue serving west Maui and hope our support will help nourish our neighbors in need.” Along with financial assistance, Safeway donated food and water to evacuation shelters. The Lahaina Safeway reopened on September 13 following the County of Maui disaster area restrictions being lifted for the Lahaina Cannery Mall. Store hours are currently 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.