Roughly 1,200 eligible individuals have received funds from the organization since August 2023 as fundraising efforts for Maui fire victims come to a close at the end of April

HONOLULU, HI (March 29, 2024)—The Hawai‘i Ag & Culinary Alliance (HACA) is honored to share the Kokua Restaurant & Hospitality Fund has raised over $1,220,000 for restaurant, bar and hospitality workers impacted by the devastating Maui wildfires that occurred last August. Originally established as an emergency relief fund during the pandemic, the Kokua Restaurant & Hospitality Fund has been a beacon of hope for Maui’s culinary and visitor industry, which comprises 80% of Maui’s economy.

From the beginning, HACA 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. To date, the fund has provided support to roughly 1,200 eligible restaurant, bar and hospitality workers who experienced a loss of employment or reduction in income due to the fires. The one-time $1,000 disbursement to each individual offers tangible assistance in their journey to rebuild during a time of uncertainty and hardship.

“The impact of the Kokua 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,” shared Hawai‘i Ag & Culinary Alliance CEO, Denise Yamaguchi. “This widespread solidarity underscores the strength and unity that defines our culinary family,” said Yamaguchi, with contributions from more than 950 donors spanning nearly all 50 states and eight countries worldwide.

In addition to the numerous bars, restaurants, and wineries that organized fundraisers to support the cause, the generosity of hospitality leaders, such as the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and Private Label Collection’s Jonathan McManus, have played a significant role in the success of the initiative. A recent fundraiser held at Hotel Wailea, Relais & Châteaux, in collaboration with renowned three-Michelin-starred chef Thomas Keller of The French Laundry, propelled the Kokua Restaurant and Hospitality Fund’s total to just over $1,220,000, bolstering the number of individuals supported through the fund.

“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 Jonathan McManus, Founder of Hotel Wailea and Private Label Collection. “We are honored, along with Chef Thomas Keller, to play a part in helping the Kokua Restaurant & Hospitality Fund meet its fundraising goals to assist West Maui.”

As the Kokua Restaurant & Hospitality Fund’s Maui relief efforts come to a close next month, donations will continue to be accepted until April 30. Hawai‘i Ag & Culinary Alliance remains committed to expeditiously disbursing the remaining funds to eligible waitlisted individuals that applied last year. Moving forward, while the fund for Maui wildfire victims will conclude, the Kokua Restaurant & Hospitality Fund will remain an integral part of HACA’s programs, ready to be activated to provide support for restaurant, bar and hospitality workers if unforeseen hardships impact the industry.

For more information on the Kokua Restaurant & Hospitality Fund for Maui, or to donate, visit Hawai‘i Ag and Culinary Alliance dba Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization (EIN 46-0618609). Contributions are fully tax-deductible to the extent provided by law. Individuals are instructed to consult their tax advisor to determine the tax benefits for their donation.

For Press & Media inquiries, please contact:
Kristen Lau-Grover, Director of Marketing & PR | [email protected] or 808-721-1849

The Hawaii Ag & Culinary Alliance (HACA) is the parent organization of the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival (HFWF)—the premier epicurean destination event of the Pacific, and Hashi Media—the digital platform for curated culinary stories featuring the global network of HFWF ambassadors and talent. Founded in 2011 as a 501c3 nonprofit organization, HACA’s mission is to attract national and international attention for Hawaii’s extraordinary culinary talent and diverse, high-quality locally grown products—ensuring the islands maintain their competitive edge as a world-class destination. Since it’s inaugural year, HACA has donated over $3.5 million to local community and aina-based organizations that support food sustainability, culinary education and agriculture. For more information, visit, follow HFWF on Instagram @HIFoodWineFest and Facebook at @HawaiiFoodandWineFestival.