A social challenge will help raise donations to provide financial assistance program to restaurant and bar workers in Hawaii

HONOLULU, HI (May 1, 2020) – Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival (HFWF) announced today the launch of the Kokua Restaurant Workers’ Fund to provide immediate support to restaurant and bar workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in Hawaii. The fund kicked-off with the ALOHA challenge, started by Chef Roy Yamaguchi, to raise awareness and donations for the industry.

The financial assistance raised by the community, with help from corporate sponsors, will help local restaurant and bar workers secure meals for their families, while also helping to keep restaurants open during this pandemic. Workers affected by the COVID-19 restaurant closures will be eligible on a first come, first served basis to obtain a Visa card valued at $250 that they can use at local restaurants throughout the state (some restrictions apply). The application on the HFWF site will open on May 12, 2020, for eligible individual workers laid-off from a restaurant or a bar to submit.

At the time of launch, Hawaii Food & Wine Festival had raised seed funding of $68,500 from corporate sponsors that will be combined with contributions through a broad community-wide campaign. Leveraging the networks and social followings of their chefs, mixologists and winemakers, HFWF is launching the ALOHA Challenge, engaging past and present HFWF participants to complete the challenge, and in turn, nominating their colleagues to do the same.

The ALOHA Challenge is an online crowdfunding campaign where the participants dance and lip sync to the chorus of the Mana’o Company song, “A-L-O-H-A.” Challengers post a video of themselves on social media completing the challenge, asking fans and followers to consider donating to the Kokua Restaurant Workers’ Fund to support restaurant workers in Hawaii. The campaign maintains momentum when participants challenge fellow chefs, mixologists, colleagues and friends to continue “spreading the aloha.”

The goal is to raise a minimum of $250,000 to provide about 10,000 meals. One hundred percent of all funds generated from the campaign will be used to provide Visa cards to restaurant workers.

“In keeping with the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival mission, we’re launching the Kokua Restaurant Workers’ Fund in the best way we know how,” said Denise Yamaguchi, Founder and CEO of HFWF. “We’re capitalizing on a social media movement that has gone viral during the stay-at-home order and using an inspiring song that captures the aloha spirit that restaurant and bar workers display each day they work to serve the community.”

To donate to the Kokua Restaurant Workers’ Fund, visit www.HawaiiFoodandWineFestival.com. HFWF will continue raising support from corporate sponsors, restaurants and community in conjunction with the ALOHA Challenge.

The HFWF mission is to spotlight Hawai‘i as a culturally-rich destination by producing world-class culinary experiences that support the farmers, students, chefs and people who call Hawai‘i home. In keeping with the mission, HFWF is pivoting its execution to support the Hawai‘i culinary industry during this unprecedented time. The Festival will continue to evolve to preserve the current food culture that has been created since the Festival’s launch in 2011.

Learn more about the Kokua Restaurant Workers’ Fund via www.HawaiiFoodandWineFestival.com or follow #alohachallenge, #kokuaforrestaurants, and @HIFoodWineFest for updates on Instagram and Facebook at hawaiifoodandwinefestival.

About Hawaii Food & Wine Festival
The Hawaii Food & Wine Festival is the premier epicurean destination event in the Pacific. The Festival features a roster of more than 150 internationally renowned master chefs, culinary personalities, sommeliers, mixologists, and wine and spirit producers. Co-founded by two of Hawaii’s own James Beard Award-winning chefs, Roy Yamaguchi and Alan Wong, the Festival showcases culinary experiences, wine tastings, cultural engagement and exclusive dining opportunities with dishes highlighting the State’s bounty of fresh, local produce, seafood, beef, poultry and spices. Since 2011, the festival has given nearly $3 million to support local beneficiaries committed to sustainability, agriculture, and cultural and educational programs in Hawaii.