Truck driver
feels like Santa

Kauahi Sai takes food to Hawaii's
hungry the whole year round

My typical day starts at 7:30 a.m. I go to places like Dunkin' Donuts, KFC and Castle Medical Center to make pick-ups and then deliver the food to churches, shelters and other organizations that have requested food from Aloha Harvest. It's a private, nonprofit organization that works with restaurants, hotels, hospitals, distributors and catered events to provide food to social service agencies. These are usually leftover, perishable foods, not canned goods. I'm the one who picks up the food and delivers it to the different organizations. I found this job about a year and a half ago after moving back from Maui and seeing an ad for a friendly commercial driver license driver.

I usually cover 100 or more miles a day. The Aloha Harvest truck is about three years old, and it's about to hit 100,000 miles. I guess it shows that we've been doing a lot of work. I make pick-ups and deliveries in town and Kailua every morning, and I rotate between going to Waianae and the North Shore in the afternoons. Some days I could be picking up restaurant food and some days I pick up breads and bakery goods.

We never know how much food places are going to donate but we try to make sure that all of the organizations receive food at least once per month. There are now 85 agencies signed up to receive donations. Some places have special requests; for example, one agency only wants vegetarian food. So when we get a big donation of vegetables or other vegetarian food, I give them a call to see if they'd like it.

Driving the 15-foot refrigerated truck is easy -- thank goodness, I haven't hit anything. Before I started I had to take a driver's safety course and also a food safety course with the Health Department. Aloha Harvest wants to make sure we deliver fresh food.

There's nothing too difficult about the job and everybody is always happy to see me. I get to help feed kids who are hungry; it's kind of like being Santa Claus year-round. There are a lot of other great parts about the job. I get to tour the whole island every week and check out the surf spots and see where the fish are biting. The only hard part is when a hotel or restaurant calls up at night for a food pick-up and no one was scheduled to work. It's best if we have 24 hours notice.

Aloha Harvest is trying to get out there and feed everybody who doesn't have enough to eat. We might not be able to reach everybody, but we are trying our best.

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