Kaua‘i goes to bat against hunger

About 5,000 people a month are served through the efforts of the Kaua‘i Food Bank.

That was the remark of Tom Lodico, president of the Kaua‘i Food Bank board, at the 13th Annual Healthy Spring Food and Fund Drive and Mahalo event yesterday.

Lodico said the goal of the KFB is to develop a “food secure” island where no one needs to go hungry.

Currently, about 500,000 pounds of food go through the doors of the Nawiliwili facility to help feed Kaua‘i’s hungry.

Based on the 5,000 hungry people being helped by KFB, that represents about 10 percent of the island’s population, and according to a University of Hawai‘i survey, 20 percent of Kaua‘i’s population is considered “food insecure.”

But the task of feeding Kaua‘i’s hungry is not possible without the help of partners. These come in the form of about 66 agencies that distribute food to the hungry.

Additionally, individual residents become part of the supply of food that helps supplement the KFB primary sources that include local supermarkets, food companies, local growers, America’s Second Harvest programs, the United States Department of Agriculture and food drives.

Judy Lenthall, KFB executive director, announced the goal of $40,000 and 40,000 pounds of food for the Healthy Spring Food and Fund Drive, yesterday.

However, aside from the goal announcement done under a theme of a baseball game, KFB took time out to acknowledge the efforts of agencies and volunteers who contributed to the overall success of the 2006 program.

Agencies are the distribution arm of KFB and Nancy Golden, who recently retired from Nana’s House in Waimea, represented that group who was awarded third place for its efforts at distributing 36,000 pounds of food, primarily on the Westside of Kaua‘i.

The Seventh Day Adventist Church in Kapa‘a helped move about 37,000 pounds of food to the Eastside of the island, and the top agency, Church of the Pacific, distributed 41,000 pounds of food to primarily the North Shore area.

These agency needs are supplemented by the corps of volunteers who come through the KFB Nawiliwili facility and James and Bev Kaneakua were honored for their diligence at coming in each week to ask where and how much food needed to be picked up.

Theresa Mahuiki was acknowledged for her long-term service at the food bank, Michelle Panoke, the KFB presenter, noted that Theresa has been with the food bank almost as long as Judy Lenthall.

The agency volunteer acknowledgment went to You Turn for Christ, a volunteer group who, in just three months last year, contributed more than 417 hours of service to KFB.

Anthony Koerte of the food bank was melancholic in presenting the Produce Donor award to Greg, Julie and Brock Schleper.

“They came here in 1999 from Minnesota to escape the cold,” Koerte said. “They started Rainbow Gardens, and since that time, have donated more than 95,000 pounds of food.”

Koerte said the Schleper family will be moving to Colorado, but Rainbow Gardens will still be in business as Dave and Val Brush have taken over its operation after moving here from Colorado.

Koerte also acknowledged the efforts of businesses and organizations who contributed to the food bank.

These were led by Shenanigan’s on the grounds of the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Quality Cleaning and Hanalima Bakery who donated more than 3,550 pounds of pumpkin pies.

Koerte said he was interrupted during his mowing by the owner of Quality Cleaning who asked what he could do to help the food bank’s efforts.

Grasping for a quick answer so he could return to his mowing, Koerte said he answered, “We could use rice. Everyone eats rice.”

Several days later, Koerte was summoned to the owner’s house where 2,000 pounds of rice greeted him from a garage.

In addition to businesses, Koerte said they got a lot of help from schools and community groups who contributed both in food collections and funds.

Topping the list of school groups, Kapa‘a Elementary contributed 1,330 pounds of food, some of it coming through their annual Jingle Bell Walk.

Island School contributed 1,159 pounds of food and Kaua‘i High School rounded out the leaders with 1,058 pounds of food contributed.

All of the coordination between the collection and distribution could not take place without help, and Lenthall presented Dickie Chang, host of Wala‘au, with the “Clean up hitter Media Award” for his efforts at getting the word out about the efforts of the Kaua‘i Food Bank.

Mark Lewis, publisher for The Garden Island newspaper, was awarded a special presentation for its partnership with the food bank in making the island aware of the food bank’s efforts at trying to create a more food secure place to live.

Between the Cracker Jacks, hot dogs, chili and its full compliment of condiments, representatives of several community groups were on hand to pick up their collection packets for the spring drive.

“We need food all the time,” Lenthall said. “Not just during the holidays.”

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@kauaipubco.com


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