Food Bank wins national award for self-reliance

LIHU’E -The Kaua’i Food Bank is one of five grassroots organizations from

throughout the United States that will be honored in New York City Monday at

the 25th anniversary celebration of World Hunger Year.

The five

organizations are recipients of the Harry Chapin Self-Reliance Awards.

In

addition to the local Food Bank, they include a low-income families empowerment

program in Oakland, Calif.; a rural crisis center in Missouri; Operation Spring

Plant, Inc., which works to preserve family farms in Oxford, N.C.; The Hope

Program, which addresses the underlying causes of homelessness and welfare

dependency in Brooklyn, N.Y.; and The Women’s Venture Fund for low-income women

entrepreneurs in New York, N.Y.

Kaua’i Food Bank Executive Director Judith

Lenthall will be in New York to accept the award.

Candidates for the Harry

Chapin Self-Reliance awards were discovered through the World Hunger Year’s

Reinvesting in America program, which is a national network of community-based

organizations that create self-reliance, economic justice and food

security.

The recipients were chosen from hundreds of applications and are

being honored for a high level of innovation and creativity in their efforts to

fight domestic hunger and poverty by empowering people and building

self-reliance.

The Food Bank reduces hunger through education and

vocational training, and promotes and strengthens a food-secure island

community through self-reliant, culturally appropriate

enterprises.

Lenthall said the organization was chosen for its “innovation

and creativity in addressing the root causes of hunger and poverty through

grassroots economic development and culturally appropriate

enterprises.”

The Kaua’i Food Bank began emergency feeding operations one

month after Hurricane ‘Iniki hit in 1992. It operated under the administrative

umbrella of the O’ahu-based Hawai’i Food Bank for two years. In 1995 and

$60,000 in debt, it became an independent organization.

Over the past five

years, the Food Bank has provided more than 3 million pounds of food to the

community and distributes over 650,000 pounds of food annually.

Food is

distributed from the Food Bank warehouse to churches and nonprofit agencies

who, in turn, feed people in need.

“In the past five years we’ve not only

gained independence and self-sufficiency, we’re increased the number of

agencies we serve from 20 to over 107,” said Paul Douglass, retired Matson

district manager and one of the Food Bank’s founding members.

Lenthall said

the Food Bank’s Hui Mea’ai program may have been a factor in winning the Chapin

award.

The program works to end hunger by promoting local diversified,

sustainable agriculture and grassroots economic development.

“The Hui

Mea’ai,” Lenthall said, “provides a steady and reliable income stream for

those interested in growing their own food for themselves and for others, and

fights hunger through education, training and the self-sufficiency of Kaua’i’s

people.”

The Hui has 46 participating farmers and distributes food to 63

outlets on the island. This year, the organization expects to put almost

$100,000 into the hands of Kaua’i farmers. Earlier this year, the Kaua’i Food

Bank was the recipient of an achievement in management for excellence award

from the Weinberg Foundation. The Food Bank feeds about 10 percent of Kaua’i’s

population, half of whom are children.

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